Today was Aid & Development day!

After a lovely breakfast of an omelette, gallo pinto, and bread, we had the honor of being visited by Istvan Sepulveda. Istvan is part of an NGO that started from the UK, Raleigh International. We learned about this organization, which works to create sustainable projects that benefit communities in need. They also empower young people around the world, who volunteer to go abroad and work on these projects, much like Global Glimpse. It was quite inspiring to see all the successful work they have done, and he shared with us some lessons that the people of Raleigh Int. learned through trial and error. His wisdom was greatly appreciated. Afterwards, we learned about the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, and had the intense challenge of deciding which ones we would prioritize.

In our Aid & Development seminar, we discussed the positive and negative impacts that non-profits and NGOs have on developing countries. Although they are indeed very beneficial, there is great danger in organizations who take action without knowing the needs of the community. In addition, many projects built by NGOs fail to educate the community how to utilize and sustain the equipment built by volunteers, so once the volunteers leave their projects fall apart.

This was all very important to keep in mind as we made our way to la Goyena. La Goyena is a community about 30 minutes away from León, which is our focus for our CAP (Community Action Project). The people of la Goyena suffer immensely from poverty. The men have no choice but to work at the nearby sugar cane farm, where they are dehydrated and overworked, causing great amounts of death and disease which goes with little to no treatment. In addition, the farm pollutes their water and air,  there is very limited opportunity for education, and domestic violence is a major problem. We listened to the people of la Goyena, as well as representatives from the New Haven Sister City organization, as they discussed all of the community’s grave and overwhelming issues. It’s humbling to know that their problems are much bigger than us, and that in our short time here we will only be able to make a small impact. Still, the people were very committed to finding solutions, and they radiated warmth. In fact, as we were leaving a man offered us papayas from his tree (which Kevin so bravely picked for us). With all the information we gathered there, we will soon have the challenge to design our CAP, one that is sustainable and helps provide for their needs.

As we were short on time, we headed back to the hostel (during which time our bus was briefly stopped by a horde of cattle), with no time to prep for our English classes. After a quick break, we headed straight to the comedor! Surprisingly, tonight they served us cheeseburgers and fries (sadly, no gallo pinto). From there we walked to our classes. Though we had minimal time for preparation, for the most part the classes went smoother and were more fun than yesterday’s. Everyone, teachers and students, really started coming out of their shells!

Overall, this day was incredibly interesting, inspiring, and satisfying. However, it was also incredibly hot and tiring! So now I must get some sleep, but I think we’re all looking forward to going to the beach tomorrow! ¡Hasta Luego!