What is poverty? At the beginning of today I felt as though I had an idea of what this word meant from my past experiences. But now I’m not so sure about what I thought before… It seemed like I knew what I was talking about, but I really did not.
To start off Day 11 in Nicaragua we had a fairly early wake up time at 6:00 am, but then we had a delicious breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit made by our very own Doña Francis. After a quick energizer to prepare everyone for the day ahead we had out Poverty Seminar with Ms. Scheppach. During our seminar we read some pretty shocking statistics about the poverty in Nicaragua. We learned that the rampant poverty throughout the country is caused by political corruption, natural disasters, and lack of job opportunities amongst other things.
When we finished our seminar we got onto our classy school bus and drove to Las Hormiguitas (Little Ants). Las Hormiguitas is an organization that provides tutoring and educational assistance to children that do not normally receive the tools to become educated in Nicaragua. They’re main tool for providing educational tools to kids is a mobile school that they travel with to three different locations around Matagalpa. We also had the privilege of speaking to the three women in charge of this organization and multiple volunteers from around the world that invest their time to help these children learn simple multiplication and reading skills. One thing that I found astounding about the organization is that they not only focus on educating the children but also on raising their self esteem so that they believe in themselves and they want to learn.
Following our visit to the Las Hormiguitas headquarters we went along with them to the city dump. Our GG Coordinators (Candi & Jorge) had prepared us for what we were going to be seeing, but nothing could have prepared me for the moment that the mobile school was unloaded from the truck and I saw little kids sprinting to the mobile school. They were racing for their education.
A lot of people in the group including Ricardo, Paulie, Jay, Bobby, Kerene, Jydalis, and myself jumped right in and started playing soccer with some of the workers. Soccer is a universal language here in Nica and even if you don’t speak Spanish, when you play soccer you’re exactly the same as the person standing next to you no matter what language you speak.
At the dump Candi helped me, Rachel, and Cynthia talk to a couple of women that were sorting through garbage trying to find clothing and toys for their own children. They were very willing to answer our questions and they even gave us advice at the end of our conversation. They basically said “think about your future before you make any decisions that could affect your life in a serious way”. This really hit us because one of the women was actually 17 years old, which is the same age as the three of us, and she has a 10 month old son.
After speaking to the women I met a young boy named Jerri, he is 11 years old and he works in the dump. He was playing a game on the mobile school where you had to match pictures of butterflies. He was soooooo good at the game and he was so smart. All that I could think about was the fact that if he went to a real school he could be even smarter and he could have the opportunity to utilize his intelligence and do great things in the world.
When we returned to the hostel after this eye opening experience we had our self reflection and the entire group opened up about their feelings and thoughts. It really made me think about my life and all of my opportunities in the US.
After the reflection we had a delicious lunch and then it was free time. During our free time there were laundry pickups, grocery store runs, and some people went to the town square to hang out.
This evening after dinner we watched a movie called “Dreaming Nicaragua”. It was all about the poverty of Nica and the children that are affected by this rampant problem. I’ll admit that even I felt a little heartbroken after watching and I don’t usually cry during movies.
Overall, today was the most eye opening and profound experience that I have had on this entire trip. Seeing the reality of this poverty and the importance of an education really made me think about all of the things that I take for granted every day of my life. And when I get home, I’m definitely going to implement some changes in my life.
To conclude this day I want to say that I am so lucky to have this opportunity to come to Nica and see the world from a different point of view and to see 20 strangers really become a family. I never thought that by coming here I would have 20 new brothers and sisters that are so compassionate, funny, and enthusiastic about changing the world. And I really can’t wait for the next 9 days with them!!!!
This blog post is pretty long but I felt like the kids and workers that we met today were worthy of a long post.
Mother Teresa once said “We think sometimes poverty is only being hungry, naked, and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty”. After today I am so ready to change the world and take these words to heart.
PS: Buenas noches a mi familia y te amo!!!