Hola from Esteli. My name is Michael and I’m from Analy High School in Sebastopol, California. So far it has been a very eye opening and inspiring trip for all of us. Our view of what is most important has changed greatly, and parents should expect to welcome back changed kids, hopefully for the better.

Today I had the opportunity to be El Lider del Día for our visit to the dump. We started off the day with delicious nacatamales which are similar to tamales except that they are wrapped in bananas leaves. After that hardy breakfast, we walked back to the Hostel for a seminar on poverty. We learned about the huge presence of poverty in Nicaragua, and how it is the second most impoverished country in Central America. The discussion was lead by our fantastic leaders, Bree and Mindy, and we went over the fives P’s of poverty: past, people, politics, place, peace. On our bus ride to La Cruz, we sat in complete silence to think about the five P’s and how they factor into poverty. Once at La Cruz, we took a short hike up to the community, which sits besides the Esteli dump. Since the community was close to the dump, trash was littered everywhere, and flies swarmed around every part. We met Doña Francisca Sr. who has lived in the community for around 50 years. She is 76 years old, and her six children live nearby in the community. From talking to her we found out that throughout her life she has had 25 children and of those only the six had survived. All 18 had died before 1 year due to malnutrition and lack of hygene. This story hit many of us very hard, and it was a story that we kept coming back to throughout the day.

We headed up to the actual dump of La Cruz and it was not the most pleasing sight. The already huge amount of flies suddenly doubled, and mountains of trash covered the landscape. Doña Francisca Jr., daughter of Doña Francisca Sr., gave us a tour of the dump and walked us through her daily process. As a dump truck rolled up and dropped tons of trash bags, a group of workers headed over to the pile of trash to sort through and gather plastic bottles and aluminium cans. Every pound of plastic bottles recovered is turned over to be only 1 cordoba or about $.025. On the bus ride back to Estelí, all of the student sat in silence to reflect on the situation of the people in the community. We later discussed about whether the impoverished have the opportunity to escape the chains of poverty or if it is even a goal for them.

On a lighter note, we had our second English Tutoring session for locals of all ages int the community. It seemed as though all of the students were much happier about how it turned out. As a whole, we prepared more activities that would engage the students. I was surprised to find out how invested a group of adults become when involving candy as prizes for participation.

I definitely picked one of the more emotionally heavy days, and at times it was hard to stay energetic and positive throughout our time at the dump. It was one of those days that may not be necessarily fun, but you get a lot out of it. I hope that we keep this experience to better understand the hardships of poverty and maybe someday we can inspire change.

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