Today we began the morning with a big breakfast to prepare for the long, emotional day ahead. We headed out to a community called “Las Cruces” which is located about 25 miles outside of Esteli, by the municipal dump. The people of Las Cruces work at the dump scavenging plastics, glass, and aluminum to sell for recycling. At Las Cruces, we met a loving 75 year old lady, Dona Francisca, who opened her home for all of us to hear the story of her struggles. Dona Francisca founded the community of Las Cruces. She had 25 children, 17 of whom died of vomiting and diarrhea. Because she is to old to work at the dump, Dona Francisca carries water from the community pump everyday. Meeting her opened our eyes to realize that we should spend more time with our loved ones before they are gone.

After leaving Dona Francisca’s home, we made our way to the dump. At the dump, we spoke to one of Dona Francesca’s daughters, who is a leader of the community. Dona Francisca’s daughter has two children who attend the Fabretto School and two children who have graduated from Fabretto and are attending High School in Esteli. They are among the first members of the community to do so. According to the people who spoke to us, the community chose to work in the dump as an alternative to working for the tobacco companies. Seeing the conditions where the people worked was very sobering and thought-provoking. We spent the bus ride home in silence in order to reflect on what we saw today.

When we arrived at the hostel, we held a self reflection session. This was a deeply emotional moment for many of us. Many of us cried. The entire group was kind and supportive to one another. This moment made us feel closer and more like family.

Afterwards we  ate lunch. We were able to venture out into Esteli by ourselves for the first time. This was very exciting for us. We called home and bought souvenirs. Some of us bought ice cream. After dinner, we taught English to our students, then returned to the hostel and had our nightly meeting.