How Rosie Scheibel has Impacted Positively Rural Nicaragua

Rosie is one of our favorite characters in Popoyo area and a good friend. You can find her here talking about a car battery model that need to be replaced in perfect Spanish using the right technical jargon, playing football (soccer) with the Funlimon girl’s team, driving crossing a river or just behind her desk as a director of the nonprofit Funlimon. She just started a new phase in her life, and we wanted to interview her because this is a right moment for reflexion. So, keep reading she is such an inspiring person…

Tell us more about you and how did you end up in Nicaragua?

Hi! I’m Rosie, ;). I’m originally from Upstate NY.  My academic background is in International Relations, Latin American Studies and Human Rights; my professional background is in non-profit management and rural community development.

I first came to Nicaragua after winning a grant through Hobart and William Smith Colleges to do an internship with the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD).  I traveled to Tola for a 9-week internship, and within days I knew that it was going to be difficult to leave!  My work with FSD led me to collaborate with other non-profits in the Tola region.  I volunteered for Fundacion Aprender (Biblioteca Tres Ernestos) and Casa Verde before being hired full time by Funlimon.

I started at Funlimon as the sports coordinator—at that time Funlimon didn’t have the facilities or the staff they do today, it was just the baseball field, soccer field, bathrooms and three full-time staff members.  We grew little by little and now there are 24 full-time staff members, including coaches, teachers, trainers, maintenance, etc., seven classrooms, fitness center, martial arts center and vocational institute.  We have English language programs and several vocational courses including electricity, plumbing and welding.  I’m currently in transition out of the Director position and into a position on the Board of Directors.

Let’s get personal, ;). What is your favorite meal?

It is funny that this is one of the first questions because my life revolves around food! My favorite meal depends on where I am at the time.  Here is a break-down by place:

  • Upstate NY: Coney (it’s like a spicy hot dog) with mustard and relish and fresh bagels with extra cream cheese 🙂
  • Nicaragua: Chancho con yucca and chicharrones de carne
  • Uruguay: Bondiola and guiso de lentejas

What is FUNLIMON mission as an NGO?

Funlimon’s mission is to create educational opportunities and to increase access to higher education for locals in the Tola region.  Our main goal is to help people gain the knowledge and skills that they need to get higher paying jobs and increase their standard of living.  Funlimon’s motto is to “give hand-ups, rather than hand-outs,” by taking special consideration to minimize the negative effects of charity (like dependency and unsustainable practices) that many organizations sometimes overlook.

You did a great job in FUNLIMON. This is even more remarkable considering your young age… What advice can you give to other young leaders that want to step forward as you did? And, What do you think is a good recipe for success in this field of work?

First off, thank you!…so nice. J I would tell young leaders to find what they are passionate about and run with it.  That sounds so cliché, I know, but people are more successful when they are working for a cause that feels strongly about.  To answer your second question: I think the key to success with any type of “rural development” or “community development” is to let things emerge organically and to not over-plan or over-implement programs.  Planning is a good strategy for some things, but it can really mess up others.  When we over-plan community projects, we leave little room for true grassroots developments and have a smaller capacity to take advantage of spontaneous opportunities that may present themselves.  In my experience, flexibility and constant reflection usually work better than cradle-to-grave planning.

What do you consider was the most interesting and enriching aspect of your work?

Funlimon and the work that they do has really helped me to connect with the local community—which has by far been the most interesting and enriching part of my experience in Nicaragua

How would you encourage anyone thinking of volunteering in rural Nicaragua?

Go for it! It’s a new place, new people, new surroundings, new food, new culture.  You will soak up so much, and at the same time have the opportunity to volunteer your time to make a small, positive change.  You will not only be able to use your skills to help benefit something or someone, but you will learn how to adapt your skills to a completely new context.

If someone is interested in collaborating with FUNLIMON, either financially or as a volunteer, what does he have to do?

Anyone who would like to learn more about Funlimon and ways to get involved can contact us directly at  Donations can be made at our website

What environment do you work best in?

I would say that it depends on the task, but in general, I love to work early in the morning in a collaborative environment where I can share ideas and bounce solutions off of people.  I plan for big-picture things, but keep my day to day planning to the mere necessities.  In problem-solving and effectiveness improvement, I love when one solution solves multiple situations/problems, that’s why I usually take a lot of time to try to understand the roots of issues and common themes across departments (in the case of Funlimon)

Rosie paintingWhat do you think are the main positive differences between the Rosie that arrived in Nicaragua a few years ago and the actual one?

Wow…Well, I arrived in Nicaragua in 2011 at 21 years old.  Compared to the 21-year-old me, I would say that I’m definitely more flexible, resourceful and creative than I used to be. I’m more curious and I work harder to understand things at their root.

We know that you are an avid traveler, what is your travel style?

The more I travel, the longer I seem to stay in each new place J …from 5 months in Korea, a year in Uruguay and then over 6 years in Nicaragua.  I really like to stay in a place long enough to meet people and to realize and appreciate the special things about a place/people/culture that you just can’t experience when you are “passing through.”

Any future travel plan that you want to share with us?

I’m hoping to go on a hiking trip to Peru for a few months starting in January or February 2018!!!!

Last good book or movie?

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

What are your favorite places in Nicaragua in general and in Popoyo area in specific?

I would say that some of my absolute favorite places in Nicaragua are the Pearl Keys, Somoto and Ometepe.  In Popoyo area, specifically, I love the piscina natural on the north end of Guasacate, I love going to the Salinas hot springs at sunrise and I love eating at El Bosque.

What was the last gift you gave someone?

I am in Uruguay now—I had studied abroad here for a year when I was in high school and lived with a family for the entire year. I gave my host-sister Lau a big bag of Nica goodies: raw coffee, cacao, chia, hibiscus flowers, giant cinnamon sticks and coconut oil.

What do you wish you knew more about?

EVERYTHING!! ..But my current obsessions are 1) Mayan and Incan ancient engineering and construction of sites like Machu Picchu, the Pyramid of Kukulcan, Mayapan, Teotihuacan’s pyramid; 2) Tea…from herbal tea, medicinal tea, tea culture around the world; 3) How to go about being an adult in the USA…hahahha…not kidding

What are some small things that make your day better?

When my car starts on the first try! I love when I have an awesome packed lunch to look forward to all morning at work. I LOVE when I happen to be on the beach just as a fishing boat is coming in so I can make the freshest fish lunch/dinner in the world!

How did you meet Carlos and Juan (Calalas’ founders)?

I met Carlos and Juan at Funlimon… they came to check out our facilities and learn more about our work and ways that we could collaborate.  Before I knew if they were volunteering at Funlimon, helping us out with our university scholarship program by providing insightful workshops for our students on topics like goal-setting strategies and time-management tricks.  Since then we have become great friends and neighbors—I’m happy and grateful for that!!J

What do you think about the Calalas Collaborative hostel idea?

I love the idea and I think that it would be awesome to eventually extend the model to new locations.  I think it’s a great way for lone travellers (and even groups) to transcend their expectations and ideas of community while participating in the creation of their Nica experience to a higher extent than most travellers and tourists.

Do you have a blog or any social media through which people can follow you?

Facebook: Rosie Scheibel
Instagram: @rosie.scheibel

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