A Report of Travel with FRB on a Youth Scholarship

A Report of Travel with FRB on a Youth Scholarship

As part of my internship with Week of Compassion, I was allowed to participate in an international cultural-work trip with one of the partners, Foods Resource Bank during my spring break. The area that the trip focused on was in Nicaragua, more specifically the Carazo region. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and puts the conditions of the country into more perspective.

Our visits out to the communities were outlying villages of the city of Jinotepe, including La Pita, Aqua de Caliente and a little larger community of Santa Teresa. These communities on average were a 45-minute drive from where we were staying at Casa de Mateo, a local missions house. Typically, these communities were only accessible by one main road with a vehicle that had four-wheel drive or off-road capabilities (where most families do not have a personal vehicle). Often times, these roads are inaccessible during the rainy season as they have a tendency to wash out.

All of the communities that we visited were agriculturally focused, as this is a necessity given their location and transportation conditions. Families that were farming have become sustainable and with the help of the local organization CIEETS, they have been able to increase yield and diversify their crop. In the duration of the trip, the group was encouraged to participate in helping with the local projects. One of these projects included installing a manual water pump to an existing well that water was previously fetched by a common rope and bucket method, putting stress on the family and causing potential harm for the children. With the mountainous region of Nicaragua and the intensity of the rainy season, farmers have to be concerned with soil erosion. We learned several techniques in which one can prevent wash out of soil and even crops with use of live and dead (natural) barriers through rows of plants or dead brush. Terracing, also known as trenching is the soil erosion prevention technique that I got a hands on lesson. Lastly, the group helped lay out hundreds of feet of irrigation hose in these newly cut field (soon to be used for cultivation). After the hose was laid out, we then proceeded to install the nozzles every meter for the drip-irrigation system to become of the hose.

This trip to Nicaragua has given me an introduction to international travel and the entire plus and minuses of getting to see the world, through culture, government operations and even the flights. Through this internship opportunity, I have a better understanding of the partnerships that it shares to help successfully run Week of Compassion as well as the importance of relationship building.

This trip has improved my interpersonal skills all around, through listening and asking questions even if there was a language barrier. Being adaptive to situations can help keep the group on task even if it’s not what was originally scheduled. During the week several agenda items were rescheduled or even cancelled but replaced by other exciting things. These agenda items offered many opportunities to pick up new tasks, such as how to install a water pump. Having the ability to learn is a great skill to help project one’s self into the next category of professional.

Over this week I have experienced many different emotions and perceived things that I would have seen otherwise. One of the biggest things that stood out were the families giving thanks to God for every little detail in their life, not taking anything for granted. With this I have been working on building my relationships since I have returned home to the states. These relationships have included everyone from my family, to my friends, newcomers and most importantly through God. I have slowed my life down at a significant rate taking more time to spend with these people, think and pray. I have noticed that since I have been home I have reduced my technology use not wasting nearly as much time on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

One the misperceptions that I had when flying to Nicaragua was that everyone in the country was destitute and unhappy with their lives in starvation. Once I became involved with CIEETS two days in, I quickly learned that the perception that I held was simply not true. Life is not so bad without all of the material possessions that many Americans take for granted. I could see this, as most of these families in the outlying communities did not even have the luxury of having electricity but were just content as could be.

It was encouraging to see women being empowered by taking on leadership roles within the communities. With these leadership roles they are helping send a message to other women that they do not have to be stuck doing the typical chores given by a stereotype and that they can do more for themselves and for their families. Hope was the biggest impression set on me as the families worked so hard with CIEETS in making life more efficient and sustainable. I gathered this impression through listening to several stories of the head of households, speaking on behalf of the work that is taking place and through the intensity vibe given.

This trip was a great opportunity and I hope that many more are to come to, so that I can share my experience through sight not only through story-telling.  

Written by Zeb Whitehurst, FRB Volunteer

06/04/2012 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment