Of our five permanent staff members, Zenelia Icabalceta, our Administrative Manager, is SCSRN’s longest-standing employee. When I asked Zenelia how long she had been working for SCSRN, she put on her glasses and pulled out a thick folder to find “the exact date when she began,” which was August 1st, 2009. This gives you an idea of how meticulous she is in managing all of SCSRN administrative activities, and in my time as Executive Director, I’ve seen firsthand that the seamlessness of our behind-the-scenes work is due to Zenelia’s attention to detail. The following is a conversation we had about her time at SCSRN.
Why did you decide to come work here?
I was between jobs at the time, and with three kids I needed to find a new job to help my daughter with her university expenses. When I interviewed for the job, I liked the description, but I was a little nervous because it involved managing construction projects, and I had no experience with that. But I was ready to take on a challenge, and I was excited when I got the job.
What’s your favorite memory about your time working here?
Well, like I said, my previous jobs had been different – desk jobs, paper-and-pencil jobs. The first construction project I managed was the school in La Suana. The kids were receiving class in a wooden shack that was on the verge of collapse – a really dangerous structure. When the school was finally built and we handed the keys over to the teachers, and I saw the excitement in the children’s faces, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction. It was very exciting for me to be a part of creating something physical, watching it go from an idea to something you could touch. That’s when I knew I was in the right place.
What do you like the most about your job in SCSRN?
I think the thing I like most is interacting with the children, parents and teachers in the rural communities. I’ve realized the incredible effort and sacrifice of those rural school teachers. And when we arrive with school supplies, I love to see the excitement and smiles on the children’s faces. Many of these kids wear the same clothes to school everyday; some don’t have shoes. It’s a joy for them to have something new, like a notebook. I also feel very moved that all this comes from private donations, not some government aid. I have a deep respect for the founders of SCSRN, and of course all the members of this organization, and how they’ve worked so hard on behalf of San Ramon to bring these donations and keep the original idea alive.
What do you see for the future of SCSRN?
Our recent change to our mission statement is a great step forward, because we’ve opened ourselves up to not only education projects, but community development projects in general. I think this will encourage San Ramon communities to get more involved. It shows that we want to support the projects that community members have identified as important. I think SCSRN is moving in the right direction to increase communication across all parts.
On behalf of Zenelia and the rest of our San Ramon team, I invite you to come visit us and see firsthand the work that we do here in this rural municipality of northern Nicaragua. We want to share with you the excitement that we feel every day as part of SCSRN!