Bienvenidos to my Blog!

Hello Family, Friends, and Curious Readers,

Thanks for stopping in to see what I am up to. This is my first blog, and I hope not to bore you too much with the details of my life. But rather hope to offer you some insights into development work, the highs, the lows, and well the boring.

But before I move away for 27 months, let me give you a little information about myself before I lose a steady internet connection.

So after graduating from Boston College in 2005, I decided I wanted to learn Spanish and "save the world" so I moved to Cusco, Peru. I began by volunteering for The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco by researching and writing a small business plan for the organization. I continued to work with the organization until February of 2008, when I returned to the US to prepare for my move to Madrid, Spain for 15 months to study an International MBA at IE Business School. And now, after a year of searching for the perfect development job, and taking odd jobs in the meantime, I have joined the Peace Corps and am volunteering again. So wish me luck, and PLEASE someone stop me from volunteering again!

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Matagalpa Dump and Susuman

A few Sundays ago, I went to a small, very poor community with a former student of mine, her mother, and her two younger brothers to visit her grandmother, who is also the pastor of a small evangelical church in that community. Susuman (the official name of this unofficial community) is located uphill from Matagalpa's dump, which is made apparent by the number of flies present at any given time, regardless of how clean the church was. Sarahi, my former student, had mentioned to me last year that she wanted to do a project in Susuman, and teach the youth in the community about how to save, start a business, and pretty much try to convince these kids that they have more options than their present condition.

Well this month we finally made it, and boy the phrase better late than never is most definitely applicable here. I am not even sure how to explain it, but basically, the people that live in this community are squatters, have built their homes out of government donated materials (in the past few years, the National Government has been giving out Zinc sheets which most of Nicaragua uses as roofs), and the families live off of $1 a day or less from materials found in the dump and then resold, or any other way they can make the money.

There is a school in Susuman, a three room primary school that was built from the salary of Sarahi's grandmother, as she is a teacher for the Ministry of Education, which at the time of my visit, had been closed down due to ownership disputes with a foreign missionary who had donated something or other and claimed it was then his/hers. But I got word a few days ago that the Ministry of Education was able to take it over, and now the school is up and running, saving the primary school kids a 5km walk to the next closest school.

Sarahi, her Grandmother, and her mom

The Church

Kitchen at the Church to feed those kids who don't have enough at home

The Church and its Pastor!

Kids watching a baseball game in front of the Church

The Matagalpa Dump

The Dump under 42X Zoom

Little boy walking with the dump in the background
Ok, so I didn't start writing this blog entry to make anyone feel bad, or pull at heart strings to get people to donate. Far from it. In fact, I wanted to write about it and Sarahi because I think she and her family are such an exceptional example of what charity means. They do not have much, and in relation to most people in the US, they have almost nothing of monetary value, but they know they are aware of the greater poverty that exists in their country and are actively trying to do something about it. They have asked me to do a few workshops on how to save, start a micro-business, etc. But in the process of the conversations, we also realized a need for much more. What turned out to be a single volunteer project is quickly becoming a multi-volunteer project, involving ovens, nutritition charlas, sexual and reproductive health charlas, psychologist visits, etc. It's a tall order, but hopefully we can make a small impact that will then ripple outward to make a bigger one. Stay tuned for more information, I have another meeting with Sarahi and family soon!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, 101 blogs! Congratulations!
    What incredible spirit these people have in such a difficult situation. Hopefully, everyone working together will be able to have a positive impact on this community. Best of luck with your endeavors.