Our day began with a hearty and tasty breakfast of gallo pinto (the traditional rice and beans dish in Nicaragua), fried egg, homemade tortilla, and tajadas (dried banana chips). We then traveled to El Puente, a religous organization that helps cater to the needs and problems in the community. They create spaces for people who have been abused or wish to turn their lives around in a religious atmosphere. Mario, a man who works at El Puente shared his deeply moving and uplifting story with us. He described how he turned his life around from being involved in gangs, making poor decisions and constant feelings of emptiness, to discovering his purpose through his faith and becoming the man he always wanted to be. Some of his colleagues took us to the dump, where some of the locals work to collect materials like plastic and metal to sell and make a living. We served food to those who worked at the dump, providing them with a hearty lunch. They were grateful, and humbly received the food. Our guest speakers Justa and Yami who were in charge of the dump gave an incredibly inspirational talk in a question and answer format. They discussed the structure of the dump, their personal lives, and most notably their pride. Justa and Yami both explicitly stated that they were not ashamed to be working at the dump, and made it clear to their children to not be ashamed either. In this sense, Justa and Yami taught the group to be proud and grateful for all that we have, to not be ashamed of or focus on what we lack, and to always remain humble.

We went back to the hostel and continued to work on our community service project, one that we come up with, design and execute ourselves. We reflected on the question of the day, which was: What do you think people in poverty want you to know about them? We discussed common themes of humanization, humility, pride, and satisfaction. We also discussed our quotes of the day which were: In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucious, and “Overcoming poverty is not an act of charity, it is an act of justice.” – Nelson Mandela . These quotes were both supported and challenged by students, sparking an engaging discussion. Overall, today was an amazing experience for all participants, and we look forward to many more adventures!

Keep checking in for more updates, we are all so excited to share our days with you. I really enjoyed being leader of the day today and learned a lot about myself, my strengths and areas to grow. We all miss home so much and hope you gain some perspective on our experiences in Nicaragua. Thank you for reading!

With Much Enthusiasm,

Nia Leilani Lundkvist

P.S. Shout out to my parents, family and friends. I love and miss you all!

IMG_1474 IMG_1477 IMG_1479 IMG_1497