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Nicaragua: Spring Break '10
10 students, lead by senior Jon Kenney and staff member Debi Lanning traveled to Managua, Nicaragua to work with the poor in both an urban and rural setting. In the capital city of Managua we painted tables and benches for the children who live in La Churrea, the city dump. The director of the school shared efforts to educate, feed and provide health care to the children of the poorest families in the city of Managua.
Next the group traveled to a village in the Northern Mountains of Western Nicaragua, LaDanta, where host families welcomed us into their homes - giving up their only bed and sharing their food with us. Translators from the NGO, Between Cultures, facilitated communication with host families for those who did not speak Spanish. The first day we assisted a women's bakery co-op by baking rolls for the children of the village who were going to attend the environmental programs on the following two days. The Eckerd students purchased the ingredients for the rolls, helped prepare them and then helped bake them. Women in LaDanta do not have any opportunities for employment and the bakery Co-op provides them with a way to supplement their family income from farming.
Peace Corps volunteer Jeffrey Flis, provided materials and instructions for fuel efficient wood burning stoves. Two ovens were completed for families by the Eckerd students. Jeffrey also facilitated Eckerd students' efforts to create a tree nursery for the Moringa tree, also known as the Tree of Life. All the students of the school participated along side Eckerd students. The next day, Eckerd students assisted in an irrigation project for the watermelon crop and helped with pest control. In the afternoons, Eckerd students taught lessons on the environment and helped students with craft projects.
The ovens will help slow down the deforestation of the mountain and the trees will provide much needed vitamins, minerals and nutrients for the residents of LaDanta as they eat the leaves and drink tea made from the tree. All projects done by Eckerd students were sustainable and requested by the residents.
Students attended lectures and tours on the politics, culture, arts and religion of Nicaragua. By far the most meaningful aspect of the trip was living with host families and experiencing their life for a brief time. The people of Nicaragua, despite extreme poverty, were warm, welcoming and gracious to the visiting gringos from Eckerd College.