Today was a “challenge day”. For the challenge we were not allowed things a poorer Nicaraguan family wouldn’t have. Much to the group’s disappointment, this included things such as: technology (the internet café, ipods, lights – we used flashlights and candles, and showers – we used a bucket with a plastic bowl), snacks, spending money, etc. We were, luckily, able to use fans. We would also be spending a couple hours with a community of Nicaraguans outside the city.
The day started at five in the morning, the earliest we’ve had to wake up this whole trip. We proceeded to go and eat breakfast, which consisted of only beans, rice, bread and water. This was to mimic a typical meal a poorer family would have had. The energy levels of the group was really low in the morning, so to get everyone energized, we played a couple rounds of two games called “Tree, Squirrel and Earthquake” and “Ninja”.
We set out for the community after our breakfast and energizers, and after a good couple minutes on the bus, we arrived to the small community. There we were greeted by small shacks made of wavy sheet metal and wood, some animals, a lot of sand and dust and a scorching heat. We split up into seven groups of two people and we all went to join a different household within the community.
At the household I was at, we helped them do some chores. The chores consisted of pumping water from a well (which was actually really strength intensive), carrying the heavy buckets back to the house, cleaning the restroom floors, sweeping away the leaves and twigs and scattering water onto the dry and hot dirt ground to cool the houses. We also played some ball with the children, kicking and throwing around a soccer ball. Later, we ate lunch with the families we were with. We had brought food for all the families with us, as a gesture of thanks. One of the little girls gave me a couple huge hugs in appreciation of having spent time with them.
Other groups also did other activities, including riding motorcycles, riding bikes and playing a game of soccer.
I feel the time we spent there really opened all our eyes, granting us great respect for the families and appreciation for our own opportunities. They all work so hard to earn a living. Answering a question, one of the family members responded that he works twelve days for around eight hours a day, to earn only around 90 cordobas (slightly less than four US dollars), and after he gets two days off completely free to spend with family. And this, of course, is when he has a job to work.
After our time there, we took a trip back to the hostal, all sweaty, and hot and caked in dirt from the wind blowing around all the dry dirt. We had some free time to shower (using our buckets) and hang out. The rest of the day was pretty much normal. We spent time to prep for two English Tutoring days, we ate dinner (more beans, rice, bread and water!), did the actual tutoring and came back for our daily nightly meetings.
Much to everyone’s excitement, all the restrictions were lifted after passing the leadership position to the next tag team leaders. That meant we could use the lights, shower normally, eat snacks, etc. again! Big props to the whole group for sticking with the challenge for the whole day and not giving up! Today was easily one of the harder, if not the hardest, day.