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I was welcomed by the CEO of Global Brigades, free dinner, and an amazing group of people on my first day. Global Brigades is a nonprofit that was started in the United States but is based out of offices in Nicaragua, Honduras, Ghana, and Panama. They give students the opportunity to use their skill to host programs in poverty stricken areas of the world that need the most help. They have nine brigades focused on: architecture, business, dental, environmental, medical, microfinance, public health and water. The main focus in their newest location, Nicaragua, is within the medical and public health field. One example: students from Austin Texas in January hosted a dental educational presentation to children in rural Nicaragua teaching them the importance of brushing. They brought a giant tooth with fake plaque that students brushed off, taught them a song, brought toothbrushes and actually cleaned their teeth.

Tuesday, I had the chance to help the Technichals venture out into an impoverished neighboring communities in Jenotega, Nicaragua to help do surveys on the population living there. They hope to bring students here this coming March to help with medical needs.

Here is my experience at our first survey/interview:
After making it to the closest town, San Rafeal, we spent 45 minutes climbing over rocks and trails through the forest in our 4x4 truck making impossible to believe that people could ever get out of their communities without a heavy-duty vehicle. 

The first family we spoke to lived in a one room clay house with a tin ceiling held up by rotted wooden beams and sticks. A hammock hung in the center and tarps separated a third of the house where I imagine held a few planks of wood used as beds. The house held two grandparents, two children in their 40's and one grandchild of 13 years old. 

We held the interview with the Grandfather, 76 year old Alejandro. Four years ago he was in an accident and broke both of his arms. He had pains on the left side of his body from head to toe for one year. His son is the only person working in the family and unexpectedly will go through intense days where he won't sleep, work and won't stop talking. They have no idea what's wrong with him but can't rely on a source of income when it happens. 

They had a second son who was drafted to fight during the revolution. His next door neighbor shot and killed him during combat 30 years ago. The Nicaraguan government gave the family $92 in the aftermath and they are still using that money today to buy firewood for everyday use.

They only have water 3 days of the week and must hold water in large bucket containers in their house to use for everyday use. The water comes from a well outside of town. 

They do not have a bathroom, but a latrine instead which is 40 years old. 

This image and interview is very hard to transfer to words. It is easy to disregard poverty in America because of our climb-to-the-top, it's your fault, not mine society but sitting down and hearing the stories of unavoidable hardship and suffering puts a lot of into perspective. These people grew up supporting their family members, their community, their country, only knowing what they were born into. Most of them haven't had the opportunity to travel outside of their own state because of financial barriers. When the only job close enough to commute to pays $1 a day, how do you manage to go anywhere else? 

Another family of 11 people we talked to had only one person with a source of income, making $20 a month, sharing between 11 people. 66 cents a day. 

This isn't a lack of ambition or motivation, these are unfortunate situations troubled with years of government corruption, lack of education, environmental factors and lack of medical attention. 

The prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.  -William James


The photos below are a combination of the families we encountered and new houses, ovens, and latrines built by students through Global Brigades.
 


Comments

Mom
02/11/2013 8:13pm

These pictures are very upsetting. I can't believe these people live like this. I'm sure it has been very hard for you to see. You are doing a great service to these people and we are so proud of you! Keep up the good work! Love you...

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    Kelsey

    Novice spanish translator, adventurer, student, passionate life lover

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