Keren Estrada has been receiving physical therapy and educational support at Tesoros de Dios since she was 4 months old. She shares excitedly her hopes and dreams for the expansion of the centre with EMI volunteer architect Sabrina Ortiz.
Photo: Christa Brunt, September 2016, Managua, Nicaragua

Treasures of God

Ministering to children with special needs in Managua

by Chelsie Kaschmitter

At eight years old, Kevin was unable to sit still and concentrate on a task for more than a minute. His mother, Lillian, had self-diagnosed Kevin with autism at the age of four and had been seeking advice from anyone who could help. “We started looking for people that could help us, and everywhere we went they said no because Kevin was extremely hyperactive.”

After being turned away from many clinics and education centres, Lillian found herself in a difficult situation. She shared, “One day someone came to our house and asked me, ‘Do you know who can help your son?’ I replied no and he said, ‘Take him to Tesoros de Dios.’”

After 10 years as a student at Tesoros de Dios, Kevin has made great strides in overcoming autism. To his mother Lillian, the change has been dramatic. Photo C.Brunt.

After meeting with the teachers and an initial evaluation, Kevin was accepted into the program at Tesoros de Dios, where he has been a student for the last ten years. Kevin is now able to concentrate on tasks for almost an hour, and as Lillian shares, “He makes his bed, he cooks, and he helps me to do chores at home. He likes sports, music, and dancing. He’s changed so much — our lives have changed completely.”

Tesoros de Dios, Treasures of God, is a special education centre in Managua, Nicaragua, that serves over 110 children and their families. Their vision is to help children with disabilities reach their full potential. Since 2004 they have been serving families who would otherwise have no access to such life-changing help and care. Besides education, care, and therapies that include both child and a family member, the focus is to strengthen partnerships between these families and schools, churches, and communities. In a country like Nicaragua where children with disabilities are often viewed as cursed or unacceptable, Tesoros de Dios has become a place of light and life.

So it is no surprise that the current centre has reached full capacity. Every day it becomes apparent that many more children in Managua could benefit from the healing and caring ministry of Tesoros de Dios. With a waiting list of over 60 children, the need for more space and a more focused use of the existing facilities is crucial. This is where EMI comes in.

The EMI team presents the initial design concept to expand the Tesoros de Dios facilities so more children with special needs can be served by the ministry. Photo C.Kaschmitter.

EMI Nicaragua sent a team of volunteer design professionals to assess the existing centre and create a masterplan that will enable Tesoros de Dios to serve more children. The EMI team prepared concept images and plans that will be used as this project moves forward into fundraising, detailed design, and construction. EMI Nicaragua architect, John Pillar reflected, “We want to see these kids restored by God, and their world restored through design… the relationship we have started here will continue and grow, and we will work alongside Tesoros de Dios all the way.” As EMI designs become reality here, Tesoros de Dios will soon be able to help more children like Kevin reach their full potential, helping them realize they are indeed treasures of God.

A staff member works with a student at the Tesoros de Dios centre. Over 110 children with special needs and their families are served through this ministry in Managua, Nicaragua. Photo C.Kaschmitter.


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Many EMI staff are learning or using a second language. Vicky Mah is learning Khmer in Phnom Penh, others are learning or speaking Spanish, French, or Hindi.

Please pray that God would give these EMI language learners the capacity, courage, and endurance it takes to learn and speak well.


EMI is searching for qualified design professionals to fill the following positions in the field:

• Architects in Mbour, Senegal & Phnom Penh, Cambodia
• Structural Engineer in Managua, Nicaragua
• Design Professionals in Calgary, Canada & Cape Town, South Africa

Write to us about joining EMI full-time at

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