Today was also a day centered around poverty. As leaders, we were faced with a unique challenge–living on $1/day. When I first heard about this challenge, I thought that we were simply going to have to manage our money extremely carefully, as well as experience what it feels like to live on an empty stomach. However, today was very different from what I had expected. I am so proud and thankful that I, Miriam Myers, was able to lead my peers through such a life-changing experience.
Most people in Nicaragua earn roughly one dollar every day. Instead of literally living on $1, us Glimpsers experienced life in conditions where money is extremely scarce. We woke up early and took a bus up to a rural community in a town called Saraguasca. Then, we were all split up into five groups. Each group was handed off to a family, and our job was to experience life through their eyes. Instead of hearing about or observing poverty, the today’s challenge was actually living in it. We were welcomed with big smiles, and heartwarming hugs–people living in the rural areas very rarely get any visitors, so our arrival was a pretty big thing! After meeting our very own family, we were put straight to work. Some groups swept the floors, while others cooked the rice, beans, and tortillas. My partners and I hand washed the children’s uniform shirts, and we later picked up all of the garbage that had collected in the yard. One thing that will always stick with me is the mud–since it has been raining a lot lately, it was really hard to walk without slipping or getting your feet stuck in the thick mud. When we were picking up trash, we had to dig up the candy wrappers and bottle caps that were practically glued to the muddy ground. My family’s house had dirt floors, and one of the three rooms was full of sticky mud. The jobs that we did today are the daily tasks and responsibilities of each of the children. After we had cleaned up and helped out, we were able to play with the kids for the remainder of the day.
Each family was very big. One of the families that my fellow Glimpsers were paired up with had ten children, and on the day that we visited the mother of the family gave birth to another child. My family had seven children, but we only got to meet five of them, plus a couple of cousins. We played soccer and baseball together, and they eventually grew very comfortable around us. Later on they chased us and tickled us, and there were smiles on every single face. The families that we were staying with grew their own food–each plot had some corn, beans and cabbage. Each family also had some livestock, including pigs, chickens, goats, ducks, and cows.
One of my most precious memories of the day was sharing lunch with our families. We brought each family meals to share, and my group had a picnic with the children that we were staying with. The children were so grateful and generous–one of the cousins that we were eating lunch with refused to eat her meal because she wanted to bring it home to give to her grandparents, parents, and siblings. We gave the families all the extras, and they were all very appreciative. The toughest part by far was saying goodbye–one of the girls that I had met started to tear up when we were leaving. The children just didn’t want the day to end.
As for us Glimpsers, our leaders have encouraged us to challenge ourselves in unexpected ways. The two meals that we have had here at the hostel have been meals that are eaten every day in the rural areas–beans, beans, and more beans. We have had exactly three meals today, and we aren’t supposed to eat any other snacks or food from home. Also, today we have had no running water here at the hostel–which means no flushing toilets and no showering. Instead, we’ve had to fill up one bucket of water to use for both washing hands and showering. I really value these challenges because they’ve showed us how little we can live on and still survive. We really don’t need to use that much water daily, and we should appreciate every single bite of food. All in all, I think that we have a lot to learn from these people, and I am extremely grateful that we got to experience this way of life.
Hugs and kisses from all of us!
PS. We each received our blue envelopes today!! We miss you too!