three things

11:43 PM Marcie Parson 2 Comments

 "no passing. risk zone for volcanic eruptions."

1. Last Saturday, Amanda and I hiked up Cerro Negro, the youngest volcano in Central America.

2. We sledded down said volcano on a chunk of metal and plywood.

3. We survived!

My life rocks.


tidbits of leon

8:43 PM Marcie Parson 0 Comments

1. Today I went to the hospital to begin repainting the pediatric wing. Although I left Heodra Hospital feeling somewhat of a sense of accomplishment, my stomach was churning. The hospital is FAR from what my perception of what a hospital should be. Like most buildings in Leon, it has no AC. The windows don't close, and there are holes in the walls to let pigeons in to roam the halls. It is dirty and grimy. There are cockroaches. The paint is falling off the wall in sheets. I swear the rooms in the pediatric wing have not been cleaned in months. My heart ached the 4 hours I was there today.

2. On a lighter note, last weekend our friend Jorge decided to take us to some hot springs created by a volcano. or something. We wore swimsuits and brought towels. Turns out the San Jacinto Hervideros are really boiling pits of mud that are so hot they literally melt your skin off if you touch them. Now picture us standing there with towels in hand. Awkward.

Then the local children proceeded to put mud on everyone's face and parade us around their town. Just kidding. Kind of. They were taking us to a "nearby" river to wash off which was really fun when we finally got there.. twenty minutes later. Definitely made the awkward moment with our towels worth it.

3. The people I live/work with are hilarious, and I'm 99% positive we have the best HELP team in the world right now.

4. Tomorrow I'm "boarding" (sledding) down the face of the Cerro Negro volcano on a piece of plywood. Literally. I'm going to die. 


good news for tamarindo

8:13 PM Marcie Parson 2 Comments

A few weeks ago, our team fundraiser for the Tamarindo water project raised over $1,600. Last night we got word of someone who agreed to match that amount.

What does that mean for Tamarindo?  
Twice as many filters can be ordered, and twice as many families will be able to have clean water.

 What does that mean for us? 
A lot of hard work these next few weeks.  
Can't wait.

 We had a meeting in Tamarindo today pitching our project to the community, and I was thrilled with how it went. We are partnering with an organization called MPowering People, and S├ílome, the director, conducted the meeting like a boss. She is an incredible speaker and was able to get the community really excited about it. So yeah, we may have a lot to do, but
 we're pumped.


one week down

5:29 PM Marcie Parson 1 Comments

Well I simply cannot believe I have been here a week already. The time is passing by much too quickly for my liking! I was blessed with a love for Nicaragua literally the moment I stepped off the plane. No adjustment was necessary, and I was thrown into projects and Nica life in general. It has been quite the exciting adventure. There is so much to learn, but I'm learning - slowly but surely! Here are some of the things I have been involved with this week:

Los Alpes Soilet

 Los Alpes is located about 30 minutes west of Leon. The school has a latrine that was in horrible condition and was dug so deep that it was contaminating its water supply. HELP stepped in and decided to, alongside the community, build a soilet that would dramatically improve the poor sanitation conditions that are contaminating the water supply. A soilet is a latrine system that digests human waste in a more natural mini-ecosystem that separates liquid from solid waste and composts the two into nutrient enriched dirt in a matter of weeks. These soilets reduce the exposure of children to diarrheal diseases and also the number of preventable deaths.

The team has finished most of the soilet, and now all that's left is the upper cabin portion to be built by the community! It will be finished within the next few days!

La Ceiba Bottle School

The 9th grade class in Ceiba meets in a makeshift classroom. When it rains (which is about every 2 or 3 days) they have no place to meet and cannot meet at all. Mastermind Jamee Jones herself is leading our team in the bottle school project to build the 9th graders a classroom. The "bottle school" classroom is being built by stuffing thousands of plastic bottles with inorganic trash on the grounds of the school alone. We estimate to have around 1,000 bottles stuffed currently! The project will not only result in a classroom, but will also teach the kids the importance of respecting the environment while cleaning up the grounds of the school. I love this project. It requires a LOT of work from our team and the community, but it is such an innovative way to provide education and improve the environment.

El Tamarindo Water

The Tamarindo water project is definitely the one I am most invested in. I can't help but want to provide people with the basic necessities of life. I visited Tamarindo for the first time on Wednesday, and it was definitely eye opening. The water situation is tricky, and there is no easy solution. The most important thing is that the community has enough of a desire to change their situation that they will grab hold of our project and maintain it when we leave. 

Right now, there are a few water sources for the community: the river (contaminated with sewage and parasites), extremely salty wells (doing more harm than good), and the "clean" water truck that comes in every day (also contaminated with bacteria and parasites). 

While we can't change the saltwater issue, we can prevent illnesses caused by bacteria and parasites. We have raised enough funds to provide around 65 water filters to families in the community that will be selected within the next 2 weeks. There is enough money to also start a replacement fund for broken and old filters. We will be teaching a basic finance workshop to teach the community how to save money for new filters in the future.  We have also planned workshops to teach water purification techniques such as boiling and chlorinating the water. Our first meeting with the community is next Wednesday, and I'm really excited about it!

English Classes with Cause for Hope

HELP has partnered with a local organization called Cause for Hope to teach beginning, intermediate, and advanced English classes. English is a hard language. In fact, I think I would be better at teaching Spanish than I would be teaching English simply because I was never taught how to speak English. I just learned. I'm super impressed with the students we have. They are hard working and have a strong desire to succeed. This week, Megan (our country director) had to go to Managua during her class, so my first time teaching was substituting for Megan all by myself. I was nervous, but it turned out to be so much fun, and I loved it! The students crack me up.

We have several other projects going on here such as repainting the pediatric wing of the hospital, patient education, business classes, working at the orphanage and afterschool programs, and soon to be DANCE classes with our one and only chinito, Charlie Kaing. We are one busy team.

Here are some awesome tidbits about this week.
In the past week I have:
  • listened to more reggaeton music than I have in my lifetime
  • held conversations in Spanish completely on my own
  • almost been married off to a 40-something year old man (kidding. kind of.)
  • expanded my palate BIG TIME
  • restrained myself daily from kidnapping the cutest nica girl ever after English classes
  • felt like I get scrutinized every time I step out of our house
  • rode a tricycle taxi and laughed the whole time. strangest thing ever.
  • miraculously found Kinder BUENO Bars! mmm a piece of Jerusalem.
  • eaten way to much. I literally am hungry all the time. what is this country doing to my body.
  • begged like 5 people to teach me how to salsa. I swear I will not leave this country until I learn.
I love Nicaragua.


feliz domingo

9:31 PM Marcie Parson 1 Comments

Happy Sunday, kids.
The church is true in Nicaragua,

and it feels like a little piece of home.


Today In Nicaragua I...

9:29 PM Marcie Parson 3 Comments

Arrived at our casa amarilla at 2 AM after 20 hours of traveling.
Woke up at 7:30.
Went to a meeting about El Tamarindo water
Went to a meeting about the bottle school
Tried strange fruit (who have I become?!)
Took a tour of the sad, sad, looking hospital
Went inside La Catedral
Drank water and fruit juice from a bag
Raced around Leon on a scavenger hunt
Won said scavenger hunt
Surprisingly felt confident practicing my Spanish
Sweat buckets
Took two cold showers and loved every second. Literally. 
Met 10 wonderful HELP volunteers
Feel incredibly grateful to be here. 

Thank you to everyone who helped send me on my way! A special thanks to Laura Scholz, Bryson Toth, Debbie Wei, Lynette Parson, Ryan Bench, Danny Weidman, Sylvia Bjorklund, Sarah Waters, Sarah Smith, Liz Jessop, Sara Turner, Katherine Kruse, Carol Pacheco, Julie Huddon, and drtlord! I wouldn't be here without your help.


just trying to change the world here

11:17 AM Marcie Parson 1 Comments

In 5 short days I'll be in Nicaragua helping provide a village with clean water. I feel like I'm a basket case of emotions: excited, grateful, and nervous. I can't deny that this adventure just feels right. As tacky as this may sound, this is something I've always wanted to do, and here I am, fulfilling my dream. The thing that frightens me is that I'm completely alone here. I decided to go on my own. I'm fundraising on my own. And I'm getting on that plane all alone. Despite all of that, I'm confident this is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. Of all the emotions running wild, overall the decision feels good. I think I've found my niche, people.

Please read my campaign here and help me help them.