Thirteen students and six programs were included in this tour of Estelí, Matagalpa, León and Managua; our travels started early Monday morning (6/28) and concluded late in the day on Wednesday (June 30).
Deanna & Greta are living in Estelí, volunteering with Mujeres Ambientalista, which the entire group visited earlier this month. (See the blog entry for June 12th for more details & photos about this organization.) Greta & Deanna help make paper in the morning, and then help create cards and products in the afternoon. Recently, the Mujeres participated in a training on medicinal plants, and are in the process of planting a garden based on their training. Deanna and Greta attended the training and are helping develop the garden as well.
Four students are living and volunteering in the city of Matagalpa, one of the northern, mountainous departments and cities of Nicaragua. Two additional students are in the countryside outside of Matagalpa city, living and working with organic coffee farmers and their families.
Daniel and Lisa W spend their days helping care for the children at the Centro de Recuperación Nutricional, living with families nearby. The center, the only one of its kind in Nicaragua, provides intensive nutritional care in a residential setting, for the most severely malnourished children in Nicaragua. The program’s capacity is 3o children, and children currently range in age from 1 yr – 5 yrs. The average length of stay is three months. Lisa and Daniel note that in many ways the children are like all other children: They like to laugh and play and be cuddled, and cry when they get frustrated. Then you help bathe and dress them and see the stark contrast of their stick-thin limbs and protruding pot belly, or you compare their ages with the normative physical and motor developments one would expect for their age, and concretely recognize their lags in development.
Annali and Kristen are volunteering with Infancia sin fronteras (Childhood without limits), a large organization with multiple programs and sites. They are enjoying their time with children who participate in the arts and vocation skills training programs in the main building in Matagalpa city; one group of children participate in the morning, and another group in the afternoon. Kristen and Annali both live in walking distance from the center and are also enjoying getting to know Matagalpa and its hilly streets.
SAN RAMON, MATAGALPA
Logan and Phil live about 10 minutes apart (by bus) in the countryside about 30 minutes by bus outside Matagalpa city. Both families are organic coffee farmers, in addition to growing corn and beans for their own consumption. Phil’s family also has several cows. Building fences, checking the coffee beans (green, still on the trees) for pests, clearing ground, and learning to use a machete from their Nicaraguan hosts are part of the rhythms of their days.
Teaching English to middle and high schoolers occupy Isaac, Ana and Joel. Mornings are spent at Ilbacom School (a private school), and afternoons are spent at the local public school. Joel, Ana & Isaac enjoy moving between the two settings–larger classes and more colleagues at Ilbacom; smaller classes and more attentive students in the afternoon (since the afternoon classes are strictly voluntary). León as a city gives them lots to explore, and Ana was pleased to report that she found a piano which she can use for practice. The required “payment” is that she give a public performance before she leaves
Climate-wise, León is HOT, so they have learned to adapt to a slower pace at midday, to rejoice in afternoon rain showers (which cool things off), and to drink more water than they even did during the hot season in Jinotepe.
SAN ANTONIO SUR (just outside of MANAGUA)
Jalisa and Alisha are volunteering at Hogar Belen, an orphanage for children with significant physical and cognitive developmental disabilities. They spend their time providing one-on-one attention for the smaller children, working to help them lengthen their concentration spans and develop motor skills through various games. They also enjoy taking the children who are physically able on walks outside the compound and exploring the fields and roads in the surrounding neighborhood.
Both Alisha and Jalisa live within walking distance of Hogar Belen, with host families whose extended families live in nearby houses, and they’re continuing to learn various peoples’ names and relationships.