Piedmont Nicaragua 2016
June 16, 2016
We’re in Nicaragua!! Still getting used to the hot and humid weather, but we are having a great time. These past two days have been super educational. We learned a ton about the history of the country and saw many monuments and significant landmarks. When we woke up on Tuesday we ate breakfast at the hostel then headed out for a tour of the capitol city, Managua. There, we learned a lot about the Sandinistas and Contras during the revolution, and we even went to the site where one of the presidential houses was.
Next, we visited the non profit organization Podcasts for Peace. They run a really cool organization that helps a community grow by having the people participate in events, such as building speed bumps for the town. They create a safe space for the children where they can learn and play in a constructive environment.
Talking to the kids, it was apparent that they love it there and it is an incredible program for them. Then at the end of the day we went swimming in an inactive volcano called la Laguna de Apoyo, which was a lot of fun!
On Wednesday we left Managua to go to Matagalpa, a big coffee farming city. We took a tour of this city as well, learning about and visiting the grave of an American, Ben Linder, who lived here and supported the Sandinistas, leading to his assassination, as well as how the city came to be. To finish off the day, we challenged our Spanish skills and played a scavenger hunt involving talking to people in the park and learning more about the culture here. It’s been a great experience so far and we are all looking forward to the next ten days!
Eva, Isa, and Emma
June 18, 2016
Today we went to help build a kitchen, plant trees, and get to know and interact with people within a small community in Matagalpa with the organization called Ray del Sol. We also went to a nonprofit that provides services for pregnant women, called Casa Materna.
We left the Hostel after breakfast and arrived at Rayo del Sol at 8. We divided into several groups. One group was the kids who helped dig holes to plant fruit trees. We were planting fruit trees because we are trying to create a way for kids to eat healthy foods while at school. Another group started transporting materials such as dirt, sand, and rocks. With these materials tomorrow, we are going to start mixing cement and building a kitchen so that they can prepare foods at the school.
They want a kitchen because a lot of the parents are sent home with food to prepare for the school and bring back the next day, but since they are in such dire economic need, naturally the parents eat some of her food that’s supposed to come back to the school for the kids which reduces the amount the children eat.
Some people worked directly with the kids making arts and crafts. They made fish out of cardboard and helped teach the students colors and numbers in English. The teacher asked all the students, and us to write down one of our human rights in Spanish. Also, a nice experience for the kids was having Emma take pictures of them with her Polaroid, as they got to keep the photos.
At about 10:30 we started to get a bit tired from all the physical work so we played games with the kids. We had a variation or “Duck, duck, goose” and instead we had them choose their own animals which were “Gato, gato, oso” which translates to “Cat, cat, bear”. They then taught us three different games which where all very fun. As we left, all the kids ran up and hugged us and thanking us for coming.
After lunch, we went to Casa Materna. We were all very exhausted when we walked in, but we powered through it and learned so many interesting things. The place was founded in 1991 after a maternal death within a community. It is funded by American and Swiss donors, and they now have several houses for women throughout Nicaragua. Since they have been able to teach sexual reproduction classes and hand out contraceptives to women who come to their center, the amount of young pregnancies has decreased. Now they are only accepting pregnant women who are very high risk such as women who are single mothers, have suffered from domestic violence, or have particularly complicated pregnancies.
After we got back to the Hostel from dinner, we had a group check in and played UNO. We had such a rewarding and amazing day, and we are so grateful for what we could experience today.
June 19, 2016
We arrived in Peñas Blancas on the bus with Hangley, our bus driver. As we arrived it started to rain, which is very good because it was supposed to start raining months ago but only began recently. As we arrived, the houses along the road got smaller and the materials that were used to build the houses became limited. We started to see similarities between the houses as they became one or two rooms and the bathrooms moved to the outside. When the bus finally stopped we all grabbed our backpacks and got off the bus and entered the rain. We walked into the community center and were greeted by Chicky's, delicious Nicaraguan cookies, and our homestay moms. We sat in a circle and were welcomed to the community and learned about the community, what they farmed and a little of their history. We were introduced to our families and started walking with them to their houses which would become our homes for the next 5 days.
June 22, 2016
Hey parents! We just spent the last four days in Peñas Blancas for our homestays. On the first full day we spent our morning doing community service within the town. Some constructed handles for a bridge and painted murals for the community while others spent time in the forest learning about the agriculture of Peñas Blancas and planting trees. In the afternoon we went on a hike to see the Rainbow Waterfall or helped make cheese soup. The second day we switched community services projects and in the afternoon cooked sweet bread or made dream catchers. On the third day many of us switched community service projects for the last time and in the afternoon either went on a nature walk or took a jewelry making class. We were all struck by the kindness and generosity of our host families. Even though there was a big language barrier they welcomed us into their homes and made us feel like members of their families.