Hola, Nicaragua!

It’s been two weeks, and I’ve hardly knit a stitch. But I have a good excuse…

P1050453

I went on a service trip with a group from my church, through el Porvenir (the Future). El Porvenir works in partnership with the rural poor of Nicaragua through sustainable self-help water, sanitation, and reforestation projects. Our mission last week? To build a lavandero (bathing and laundry/wash station) next to the community well in a rural village. Our worksite was pretty remote, about 45 minutes from our very basic small town hotel (no hot water or daily, or even weekly, housekeeping service) down the highway, through a tinier town, over 6 river crossings (some dry, some not),

P1050164

into the hills along the back roads,

IMG_1994

through a spent cornfield, and into a grouping of a few houses.

P1050221

There is no running water in these houses; water is fetched from the well about 200 yards up a foot path. No indoor plumbing, but el Porvenir has worked with this community before. All the houses have latrines behind them, and the well was also an el Porvenir project two years ago. There is no electricity in the village, except for one house that has a single solar panel.

P1050317

Enough for some light during the winter, and probably a source of charging for the cell phones! Yes, there are 2 bars of signal from Claro Nicaragua. I thought I’d be completely off the grid, but I guess not.

The kitchen of the house where we had lunch each day was basic, but enough.

P1050256

It even had a hen and her chicks, who were too young to be in the yard with the rest of the animals.

P1050312

P1050239

I love this picture; it looks completely unfocused, but each area has something going on. On the left, on the machete-crafted sawhorses, we’re making reinforcement beams with rebar, rods, and wire, that will be filled with concrete. Directly behind that people are digging for the foundation slab. On the right you can see the blocks that will become the walls of the lavandero, and behind those are people bending metal rods to make squares to shape the reinforcement beams. The kids helped us cut thin wire to wire the squares to the rebar, and men of the village helped with the concrete work. The women also helped shovel, and gather rocks to fill in the base for the concrete slab. This is what I found most impressive about an el Porvenir project. We didn’t come in to build a lavandero for this community; they worked alongside us to do it. Our contribution, more than anything, was to purchase the materials so that they could make this happen.

P1050235

Building materials were carried up to the worksite by wheelbarrow, pack horse, or hands. The stone blocks in the previous picture came up by horse. Another feature of the worksite? Free-roaming cattle and chickens!

P1050289

IMG_2019

But the best part of the project? Meeting the children. Even though my Spanish is very limited, and their English was even more limited, we became friends. We read stories in Spanish (Eres mi Mama? Are You My Mother? Big Dog, Little Dog…the older kids helped me with my reading) and worked together.

P1050300
Elieser and his brother Osman took turns taking care of baby brother Egner.

IMG_2016
Evert was a source of fun, always!

IMG_2060
Elieser and Owen, and Jazz Hands with Gloves.

IMG_2061
Jamileth with brother Carlos Manuel and Egner.

IMG_2013
Mariela at the well.

P1050233
Me and my wire cutting brigade!

We also met the matriarch of the community, Hermenegilda, who’s 95. Her son Jose Angel is on the left, and one of her daughters (didn’t catch her name) is on the right. Hermenegilda is related to everyone in the community.

P1050306

We knew we wouldn’t finish this project in the time we had there, but the community will get it done. Eventually it will look like this one:

P1050285

But when we left it looked like this:

P1050459

I’m happy to say I helped build these shower walls!

IMG_2070

My brigada (brigade):

P1050442

P1050460

And a couple of pictures from the road.

P1050266

P1050201

We spent a lot of time trying to get just the right picture of this rocky mountain. It’s hard to get a good picture when you’re standing in the back of a moving pickup truck!

And how was your week? Did you miss me? What did you do while I was gone?

About these ads

11 responses to “Hola, Nicaragua!

  1. What a wonderful thing for you and your brigade to do. Obviously these people are very pleased with their new facility! I just spent my week knitting on a baby blanket for my first great-grandchild due in June (feel a little small compared to all you accomplished.

  2. Welcome home! Looks like it was a thoroughly amazing trip. Love all the photos!

  3. Yay! You’re back!! Owen and I had a great time reading through this post. He loved the pictures, the critters and the kids! Can’t wait to hear all about your trip!

  4. Wow, what an incredible experience, and such a worthy project! Thank you for doing this and for sharing the story!

  5. Thank you for sharing all these pictures.

  6. Pingback: A little more Nicaragua | PDXKnitterati

  7. Sounds like a fulfilling trip, Michele. Wow! beautiful pictures!

  8. Those are some good looking shower walls! ;)

  9. quiltyknitwit

    Wonderful post, beautiful people – very inspiring!

  10. I felt right alongside your love, excitement, and hard work. What a wonderful, self-satisfying mission trip. Love is the universal language, the bridge. I love how you weaved this thoughtful post together and share the experience, Michele.