Sunday, June 27, 2010

Nicaragua 1: The Intro

We were approached by a friend of mine, MMS, who invited us to serve as the “Program Coordinators” for an experiential learning service trip to Nicaragua for students from Allegheny College.  It seemed like a no-brainer when she asked.  I heart Nicaragua in a huge way, and I’m pretty sure that Tim’s love for the country is growing with more and more experience there… and of course Sebastian was eager to see the place where his parents “found” his name.  So, we packed up our bags and all the baby gear we thought we’d need for 11 days and headed to Nicaragua.

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We made our way to Houston, where we met up with a group of 20 students from Allegheny College – 17 women and 3 men, most of whom are pre-health students.  They were an outstanding group of young adults – interested, committed, concerned and full of energy and enthusiasm (I had forgotten what kind of energy you have when you’re 20 years old!). 

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Our purpose in Nicaragua was to work with Project Chacocente, a non-profit organization founded by a gringa who had visited the dump of Managua – La Chureca – and decided that she needed to do something to help out.  She purchased a plot of land with the idea that her organization would assist families living and working in La Chureca to relocate and build sustainable housing, a school, income-generating businesses, and healthy lifestyles.  Several families were selected to move to Project Chacocente, about an hour’s drive from the dump, and they committed to working in the community for a minimum of 5 years, after which time their houses and plots of land would become theirs.  In 2010, the community has grown to 8 families.

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We worked on three main projects while were at Chacocente…

The first project was building a computer lab for their local school.  We did it all by hand from carrying the cement blocks to mixing the cement to laying the blocks and cutting rebar and wire reinforcements. 

The second project was digging a septic tank for the toilets at the school.  Currently they are using latrines, but they needed something deeper, with larger capacity.  So we partnered in digging 20 feet down.  It sure gets tough to breath when you’re down that deep underground!  And yes, we did this all by hand…

And the third project was splitting and digging up plantain trees and transplanting them into new holes that we dug – again, by hand – in order to space them out better with the hopes that it would produce a better crop. 

Lots of sweat and sore muscles were poured into these projects.  Our students worked side by side with the folks from the community and didn’t complain about the scorching heat or their tired, achy bodies.  They made us all very proud, and we were honored to share in this experience with them. 

More to come on our adventures in the Motherland… poco a poco!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Seb’s 1st Birthday Party!

After a wonderful two weeks in Nicaragua we returned home with a day to finish planning and preparing for Seb’s big 1st birthday party.  We are so grateful for super family and friends that pulled together to help us pull it off…especially since I was still in the midst of Monteczuma’s Revenge! 

We gathered at the Pavilion at my parents’ church; it was a gorgeous day and we had lots of activities for everyone to enjoy and no one went hungry. 

Although the birthday boy was a bit uncertain about birthday cake in Nicaragua, by the time he had his second chance, he was convinced it was a good thing.  This is what he started with (mommy snuck in a blueberry muffin and decorated it with frosting and sprinkles):

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which turned into this…

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which turned into this…

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and then this….

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and finally this…

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Our little tyke is getting to be such a big boy!  Thanks to all for sharing in our special day for Sebastian.  We were so glad to celebrate with our dear family and friends! 

I hope to post a slide show or photo album soon to give you a glimpse of many of the happy faces at the party. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"nothing but net"


Check out this link for an awesome project that my cousin-in-law is doing. Please, please, please consider helping out! I'm the proud owner of a beautiful CJJ quilt. She's raffling off a gorgeous quilt to help fund mosquito nets for families in Africa. Having spent many a night under a mosquito net in Africa and other places around the world, AND having seen and treated many a case of malaria, I wholeheartedly appreciate and support her efforts!
Read all about the project on her blog, and click away to enter the raffle!
Oh yeah, and if you'd like to know what WE have been doing over the past two months, check back soon. I hope to post some updates in the very near future. Stay tuned! :)
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