VILLANOVA. Pa. - Villanova University has signed a cooperation agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Nicaragua. The partnership will provide opportunities for Villanova students and professors to participate and aid in projects related to health, telemedicine, entrepreneurship, education and various other social programs. It is spearheaded at Villanova by Pritpal Singh, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Villanova’s College of Engineering.
Given UNICEF’s mission of working with others to “overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path,” much of Villanova’s work with UNICEF will focus on the indigenous populations on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, where poverty is widespread and many services are lacking. Villanova students and faculty will work with UNICEF in Bluefields, the capital of Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur, Nicaragua, one of the country’s areas in greatest need.
“I am delighted that UNICEF, Nicaragua is as excited about working with us as we are with them,” said Dr. Singh. “From roads to communications, the region’s infrastructure is very limited. Villanova will provide needed technical support, software development and training to develop systems of communication. We will also host entrepreneurial workshops and will mentor students and faculty at Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University (BICU), a local university that serves the indigenous people of the area, but has few resources, to improve the quality of education.”
In addition to infrastructure and education challenges, there are many other areas of need in Nicaragua including business and entrepreneurial guidance, and health services. Nicaragua’s Ministry of Health has expressed interest in expanding the Nova Mobile Health program – developed in 2010 by Villanova University’s engineering, nursing and business students and faculty in response to the challenge of much-needed healthcare access – to the Bluefields region, but acknowledges that there will be technical and cultural challenges, including limited cellular coverage and the prevalence of shaman doctors.
In March 2015, the University’s annual spring break service trip to Nicaragua will include a visit to Bluefields where Villanova students will participate in an organizational meeting at BICU.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.