This blog was written by Henrietta, a Program Coordinator for Global Glimpse. She’s one of the four in-country staff members in Esteli, Nicaragua, and she works to develop the program itinerary, manage site details, and guide students through their trip in-country. This entry captures the thoughtfulness and hard work that her first delegation (E1A) put into their Community Action Project.
El Robledal, nestled in the hills of Miraflor Nature Reserve, is a place of hardship and struggle, but also of resilience, warmth and love. This small community opened their homes to host Glimpsers during the ‘Living on a $1’ challenge, where our students were able to experience what it was like to live in a rural community that doesn’t have access to running water or electricity.
As Esteli coordinators, we began visiting this community in early March 2015. The lack of rain made the land dry and barren, but we fell in love. We were invited in to visit every home, and though shy at first, the families blossomed during a group activity to get to know each other more. They all mentioned that their favorite thing to do was to meet new people and show them the ‘campo’ (countryside) way of life. This beautiful community would also become the home of our CAP (Community Action Project), planned and led by the Glimpsers themselves!
The people of El Robledal do not receive regular support from the state; however, the state built a primary school with two classrooms two years ago. This has become the hub of the community, and they proudly declare that the children don’t work in the fields during the day because they’re in class learning. The hope is that as these students become more educated, they can one day become teachers or go on to study agriculture to improve their community’s harvests.
During our visits we became more aware of the needs of the community and we were inspired by the projects they had already completed. What could we do to help? Once our first delegation of Glimpsers arrived in Esteli, we began introducing them to the 3D CAP process: discovering, designing, and delivering their very own project.
The Glimpsers quickly grew passionate about this project and took it into their own hands to create a budget, present their ideas the community members, receive feedback, and buy the essential materials needed.
We visited the community together, and sought to find solutions to some of the needs of those we would be working with. We spent time in the local school and learned that while the two teachers had turned the second classroom into a pre-school, 45 primary school children, all in different grades, were sharing one classroom. We’d had heard the dreams and aspirations of the families for their children; could they achieve this in such a cramped environment?
Through our meetings with our partner organization, UCA Miraflor, and all the local families, it was agreed that one of the greatest needs in El Robledal was to create a separate pre-school, a safe environment in which the younger generation of the community could flourish.
The Glimpsers quickly grew passionate about this project and took it into their own hands to create a budget, present their ideas the community members, receive feedback, and buy the essential materials needed. E1A went above and beyond in their efforts to be fully prepared for the project ‘delivery;’ their first day of construction.
The general plan was to improve an abandoned building and transform it into a secure structure able to hold toys and materials used by the pre-school. The group decided to reconstruct the walls of the building, install a new roof, replace the wooden beams that were rotten, build new windows and a door, and lastly start landscaping the surrounding areas with plants and trees. The group used their free time and free days to divide themselves into specific roles needed in order to achieve this goal, and used their own monetary donations to buy materials. Moreover, the group also asked for donations! We visited the hardware stores of Esteli to discuss the needs of the community and the plans of the project. A total of 6 hardware stores donated paint, nails, cement and roofing to the project. This just got the students even more pumped to work harder during their delivery days to get the project finished.
During the delivery days the entire community rallied around: men, women and children taught the Glimpsers how to make windows and fix the walls effectively, while the Glimpsers taught the community how and where to best plant trees. It was such a beautiful exchange of skills and strengths, and as a coordinator I felt so much emotion, joy, and pride. The group had gone on a journey of discovery during the program we had created for them, but the CAP felt like the Glimpsers really put into practice everything they had learned during their trip.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things,” says Henry Miller. In my heart I’m sure that reconstructing the preschool was not just the end product of the Glimpsers’ program, but the beginning of a process that will work at home in their own communities, as they go on to chase their dreams. It is also a beginning for the children of El Robledal: they now have the space and freedom they deserve to study and expand their minds.
Good luck to all. Thanks to all the families of the Glimpsers that have and are travelling right now, to the Glimpsers themselves for being brave enough to take the leap into the unknown, and to all the contacts here in Esteli, Nicaragua that inspire me every day and push me to be a better woman and a better leader.
(P.S. The glimpsers went on to thank all the hardware stores that helped out during the project on a local news channel!!!)