Day 4

Today we had our first experience at Barrio Grenada.* When we got there we were met with open arms by the community and the leaders, it was really something. We all sat in the community house and were introduced to the leaders, and likewise we all went up in groups to introduce ourselves and tell them a little bit about Canada and where we all live. This included the farmers market, RIM, maple syrup, Oktoberfest, hockey and of course Tim Hortons and a demonstration of the chicken dance. After introductions were done we gathered in 3 groups to listen to the leaders tell the story of how Barrio Grenada had its trials as the community fought for more land to live on. This included the equivalent to the SWAT in Nicaragua trying to take the land any many community members including children and pregnant women getting beaten by them. It is amazing that people almost lost their lives for the right to buy land. We were then led on a tour to get a sense of the place we were to be working in and what the projects looked like. The reality of poverty was everywhere and it was amazing how happy people were despite their living conditions. After the tour, which was a real eye opener and brought up many overwhelming feelings for many, we went back to the community house for lunch. Following lunch we went back to Casa Blanca and had some group sharing time where everyone was able to reflect and share their feelings of all that was seen at the Barrio. Soon after we were taken to the Moravian church, one of the partners with the United Church, to hear a sermon (in English) which was very interesting.** We then ventured to have dinner at a traditional Nicaraguan restaurant which everyone agreed was very tasty! With our tummies full we headed back to Casa Blanca to sit down and enjoy a movie to end our busy day.

-Blogged by Julia S.

*Where the service projects will be completed.
**Many new songs and traditions were learned and may be incorporated in some of our return services.

I´d like to begin today´s blog with an enormous thank you to Sarah, Elizabeth, Sherrie and everyone else who helped me feel better after a bout of heat exhaustion got the better of me. I truly appreciate how you worked to make me feel better physically and emotionally. Needless to say, I shall definitely remember to wear a hat from now on. Now to today’s events…
This morning my housemates (Julie, Jenn and Vanessa) and I made pancakes for our host family. Topped off with all-Canadian maple syrup and accompanied with fresh Nicaraguan fruit, it was a delicious breakfast (´deayuno´en Español). It was very nice to be able to give something back to Doña Guadalupe and her family who take such good care of us.
After meeting up with the rest of the group, we travelled, for the first time, to Barrio Grenada. Barrio Grenada is very different from the neighborhood where we live with our host families (LosRobles). As you enter the Barrio from the highway, houses made from tin, plastic, cardboard and branches line the street. The people walk and play in the street wearing very worn down shoes and sometimes no shoes at all.
As we gathered into the Community house (Casa Comunal) we were greeted by leaders who live in the Barrio and who work with Compañeros on the projects. Many ´holas´ and kisses on the cheek were exchanged before we all sat down to get to know one another. The street leaders introduced themselves and so did we. We also told them a little bit about where we come from. They played music and danced for us and we sang both the Canadian and the Nicaraguan national anthems.
We were split into groups and got to hear the story of how Compañeros came to the Barrio. To make a long story short, the people in the Barrio were becoming very crowded in the space of land that they had. They went to the municipal government to ask for another small piece of empty land to expand their cramped population onto. The government rejected their proposal and ended up calling the police to take them away. The police started to beat them, but just then a camera man who was from a local news crew began to film the horror. Because of this video, the government ended up granting them the land. But it would be years before the new piece of land (now called Anexo) would receive potable water and electricity. Working in partnership with Compañeros the people in the Anexo have been working on 3 different projects. The first is building a library into the Barrio´s school, second is putting working water system that would bring clean water to the people of the anexo and third, building houses for extremely needy families. We toured the Anexo looking at the progress already made on these projects. As we talked to the residents of the Anexo, I was struck by how hopeful and grateful the people were. They have unending thanks for our financial support and help in the construction of the projects. Sarah and I both found it saddening because the things that we are providing should really be in place already. We take them for granted in Canada because we are born with all of them at our disposal, no questions asked. Water, education and a roof over our heads are not an option they are a necessity. In much of the world though, people go without these necessities. Thanks be to god for the Compañeros staff and for the willingness of the community in Barrio Grenada to share their lives with us.
-Blogged by Jasmin-

Check out the videos below made by Compañeros about the projects!!!