“Give a man to fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This quote, by Maimonides, embodied our  day.  We focused on the vision that should, but doesn’t always, accompany aid.

Our day began at 8:00 AM, which was warmly welcomed since we got to sleep  in.  I woke at 7:30, thanks to both of the watches that I was wearing (thank you Kevin).  We left the hostel at 8:45 to our local Comedor Deja Vu, a recurring theme in all of our days.  Breakfast was beans, salad, a tortilla filled with chicken and rice, and our JOTD, (Juice of the Day) cantaloupe juice mixed with orange juice.  We returned to the hostel and began our Aid and Development seminar.  We began the seminar by getting into our self-reflection groups, which are the groups that we meet in most nights.  Next, we scored from 0-10 a quote on the board, which read, “The United States should stop giving aid to other countries and start solving its own problems.”  10 meant we felt that the quote was completely true, and 0 meant that it was false.  Each group took the average of its scores, and our group average was 6.5, which was the highest out of any group.  The delegation average was around 4, so as a group we were fairly neutral.  Then, we were split into two groups, and each group was given an article to read and told that it would have to create a skit that reflected the article.  Our article supported aid, and was about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the work that they’ve managed to do.  Our skit consisted of a neutral judge, unsure if he she should give aid or not, and several countries all supporting aid with numerical facts.  However, I feel that the other group definitely had the better skit, as theirs consisted of a t-shirt salesman who wanted to donate 1 million t-shirts to Africa.  We saw that some characters, who were African children, didn’t need t-shirts, and that some African vendors would suffer since t-shirts were the way that they made their living.  We were all exposed to the negative affects that action without vision can have.

Next, an Energizer, which was a way for us to “get pumped.” We played Human Knot, and we split into two groups.  With each group, each person put their hands in the middle and grabbed two other hands.  The goal, which we achieved before the other group, was to untangle ourselves and form a circle.  By now it was 11:00, and we were scheduled to have a speaker come.  However, the speaker was coming from Esteli, roughly 2 hours away, and was unable to make it.  Our coordinator, Brayan, informed us about the program that our speaker represents, named Raleigh International.  Brayan shared his personal experience with the organization, and told us some stories about the 10 weeks that he spent in a rural community, which I will not repeat here (don’t worry, they’re age appropriate). At 12:00, we headed to Deja Vu for lunch. I personally had rice, pasta, and al pastor, which was a kind of spicy pork.  Our lunch beverage was sweet cool lemonade.

At 1:15. we went on a field trip to La Goyena, which was the rural community where we would be designing and delivering our Community Action Project.  Specifically, we went to Nueva Vida, which consisted of about 380 people.  We spoke with the leader of the community, Don Fabio, and several other elders.  Through our questions, we perceived that the main challenges that the community faces are clean water and waste disposal.  We found that these problems go hand in hand, since the waste is often disposed of in a nearby river that actually feeds the local drinking wells. At this point, we began to form ideas about our CAP project, and we identified several specific problems in the community.  First, an electric pump to a pipe broke during a recent earthquake, causing a lack of water near the kitchens.  As a result, third grade children need to carry water in large containers from the pump to the kitchen 20 meters away.  Also, the community has a Environmental Awareness group, which has done as much as it can to raise awareness in the community and construct separate bins for compost and plastics.  We felt that we could help it by raising awareness with posters or murals, and by constructing more waste bins around the community.  Although we will not design our project until later this week, we completed the first stage of our CAP project, Discovery.

We arrived back to the hostel at 4:30, which barely gave us enough time to plan our English lessons.  Dinner was promptly at 5, and was a kind of fried rice with white bread (only the second time that we’ve had bread in the last 7 days).  Our last Juice of the Day was some sort of mango nectar. Tutoring was from 6-8, although with Nica time, it actually lasted from 6:15 to 7:45.  As a delegation, we all had a better tutoring experience, whether it be more students or new vocabulary/grammar.  We returned to the hostel, had our nightly meeting, and I passed the torch onto our next El Lider del Dia, Camila.

Today, we realized that there are both positive and negative effects to aid.  To make it most effective, aid should leave lasting impacts, for example training doctors instead of giving one-time vaccines.  We will try to apply this to our CAP project, and think of a project that will continue to give back to La Goyena long after we have left Nicaragua.

P.S Thank you to all of the parents who have left notes, as I’ve seen the immediate brightening of each of our faces. I just want to say I love you and miss you to my mom, dad, and bae.

This has been Josh Zeitsoff, signing off.