one week down
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.