This week students from the College of New Jersey's Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement are in Nicaragua with a Witness for Peace delegation. This is a direct account from those students.
It's day 3 in Nicaragua and everything is so far so good. Nicaragua this year has been great thus far. When I arrived here I wondered if I was going to have a similar experience then the last time I was here.. and so I concluded that I did not want to compare one Nica trip to the other. I want to take this second trip as a second chance. Today I realized that I have not done enough to help Nicaragua last year and this coming year I need scream to the top of my lungs and raise awareness about the social injustices that Nica is going through every single day.
Today I had the opportunity to talk to some people that are staying at CEPAD (the name of the place we are staying) as well.. and I really want to know what they personally think about the current president and what they thought about the fact that he is going to run for the third time for office. Something that was against the law but he personally made sure to change that just so he can run again. They really were opinionated about the president and what they expected from him.. The people in Nica especially college students are iffy about the president, he has done good things but he has not been to transparent with the things he is doing. So I guess what worries many people here is if he is changing the law and running again to just become another Fidel Castro? or Chavez? Which by the way they are all buddies along with my very own Ecuadorian president.. So the college students expressed concern about all these relationships and hope that only good comes out of these relationships and they also hope that all these presidents are working for the people and not to get richer or steal from the country. However, if we look at Chavez case.. I am sure he is praying (like one of the speakers today mentioned) that the "petrolio" cost gets higher so that Venezuela gets richer.. Something to think about
Before I engaged in conversation with the Nicaraguense college students, Witness for Peace allowed us to talk to 3 speakers today. We first learned about Neo-liberalism.. which was actually good because it was a refresher and definitely helped me understand everything else that happened through out the day. After breakfast at 7am.. may i mention. We took a trip with Yamilette Perez who helps her community by having her very own small clinic. This clinic is a free clinic so many people that have flu or any type of sickness come to her for help and she is there! Her story however is very interesting she lived in a dump for a big chunk of her life and she worked there as well, collecting bronze, plastic and basically sorting out the garbage that all of Managua (the capital city of Nicaragua) dumps daily. She had her only daughter in the dump and she showed us pictures of her daughter very un-healthy because of her economic status. She did not have money so she often had to eat meat that was thrown away by other people. She told us that she would rub these guava leaves on the meat so that the smell of the meat is canceled out and help her eat it better. She would often not eat breakfast or lunch so that she would be really hungry at night.. enough to allow her self to eat the passed away meat. It was hard to her her story but I realized how strong of a woman she is. She is now helping others, no longer working in the dump but instead has a house in a community next to the dump. This allows her to still have the opportunity to help her community. Its amazing to see people go though some really tough times in their lives and they still have time to think of others or still have that burning passion to help others even though your very own life still needs help too. She is a great example of a strong woman.. she got though it all and she is still standing tall and with a smile on her face. She is a very happy person and not many people in the USA can even imagine going through what she did and not be mad at God or at the world. Life can be tough for me.. finals, personal problems but once you hear her story my problems become so small compared to hers. It just makes you appreciate everything you have.. but that's it? Do you appreciate and walk away? NO! You take action.. you do something about all this! This leads me to mention the reflection we had with the whole group about what we are going to do when we get back from Nica. We obviously realized that "this is not ok!" like my roomie Jenn would say.. In our reflection and through out this whole trip I want to brainstorm ideas with others on this trip.. and see what we can do.. Last year we had a Nica forum and that was it.. YES! its hard to balance school and Bonner and other activities on campus and still try to organize an event.. but its not impossible.. So I have challenged myself .. to do more then what I did last year for Nica this year. Actually, this new Nica group silently challenged me to do something more for Nica then a simple Nica forum..Which I do not down talk it because I think last years forum was great.. it took a lot of planning and everyone who spoke did a great job.. but this is just a motivation to do more.. to basically improve and build upon the other ideas that have already been implemented by other delegations to help raise awareness for Nica. I just don't want to get carried away by "life" once I get back to the USA and not remember the things I have experienced here.. and so I hope that everyone in this years delegation from TCNJ can push each other and nudge each other when we go back to the U.S. and remind each other that we need to take action! Its been REAL.. I can not wait until we go to Ramon Garcia which is el campo.. and see my host family from last year.. I hope she remembers me because I sure do! I also hope that everyone that is on this trip gets excited for it too.. its hard to get excited because everyone is a but anxious about what to expect in el campo.. Bears, tigers, BUGS.. ha ha.. I hope that everyone worries do not get in the way of learning from their families and really listening to what they have to say about their own economic issue. Its natural though to be nervous about el campo.. heck I was when I first went.. its outside our comfort zone but stepping out for 3 days and embracing it is the way to gooo! I am excited for the following days.. i hope to meet more Nicaraguenses..and talk to more people about politics which I really think is interesting right now.. hot topic..
This post was originally published here.