Today was another good day for working in Barrio Grenada. There were plenty of clouds, so the sun was not to intense. I helped with building the house on street four, with Olivia and John. By lunch time we had 8 holes dug and 3 posts put into the ground. Putting the posts in took the longest amount of time because they needed to be perfectly level and in line with each other, and there are fifteen posts in total. After another delicious and filling lunch we all boarded the bus to go see the dump. We only got a glimpse of it from the bus because it is no longer safe to go inside, although people still live and work there. We got to visit Micalana´s house in the community outside the dump. She lived in the dump for the first year of her life so she does not remember it, but still told us about the dump and what she is doing now. One thing she is working on is a fair trade shop. So we went there to buy a few things. After dinner with our hosts families, we went out to a restaurant-cafe and split three delicious cakes between the group. Then we party-bussed it all the way home.
-Blogged by Julia D-
My morning was uneventful, except for some of my housemates waking me up an hour early due to not having adjusted their alarm to the proper time zone. Regardless, we eventually made over to Casablanca and prepared to go to the Barrio. Today, I was working to build a home on street 6. The house in question was being built for one Catalina Mara, her husband and her young son and daughter. Me and a member of the Kampville group worked on that site with Nicaraguan university students around my own age from the Latin American charity “A Roof for My Country”. When I say ‘worked with’, it was more like being directed by them. The reason was that today were putting in a foundation which consisted of a series of wooden poles, and it was essential for the rest of the week’s work that it be done properly. Thus, we did a lot of standing around while precise calculations were being done. However that did give us an opportunity to strike a bit of a conversation (Thankfully, a couple of them knew English so I did not have to rely completely on the poco espanol that I had). The most amusing part was the discussion of the various accents possessed by Canada (I apologize to any newfie who may be reading this blog). It turns that the Nicaraguan accent is known in Latin America as sounding like the speaker is singing. I also found out a bit more about the organization that they were working for called “A Roof for my Country”. It is a Latin American NGO consisting of students working to alleviate poverty situations in their countries. Their methodology consists of a three step plan: The first step is to provide temporary housing to particular members of a community in desperate situations. The second step consists of social work in the community to address the development of poverty. The final step is to provide permanent housing to the community members in need. So far, Barrio Grenada is only in the 1st step of trying to create temporary housing. Being an academic youth myself, I felt a certain kinship with the students that we were working with. What made it really meaningful was that these students represented the privileged of their own society, and they choose to take a significant commitment of their time to actually helping others within their own country. This is the model of homegrown development work that will provide a lasting solution to social issues within the poorer regions of the world.
After a hearty meal of chicken, rice, beans, vegetables and plantain in the community hall, we departed for the Managuan municipal garbage dump of La Chureca. If there was anyplace in this world that could truly be called a hell, then that was it. We did not actually go within the dump itself due to the safety concerns of Companeros, but we did drive by the neighboring streets. There was garbage haphazardly strewn throughout the street, and there were many smoldering fires that nobody bothered with. Starved dogs with missing patches of skin foraged amongst what was there, but it was the inhabitants themselves that made the scene most disturbing. One of the things that we had learned as a group was that all Nicaraguans greatly value personal hygiene, and even in the dusty and poor community of the Anexo people took the time to make themselves clean. However, that standard seemed to be discarded in La Chureca. The most disturbing thing of all was the atmosphere. Despite the poverty of the Anexo, there was an optimistic undercurrent which energized the people there and created an awe-inspiring sense of community. However, that hope was missing here.
A few blocks away from the dump we were taken to the home of a young woman called Michaela. Michaela’s mother had moved into the dump in order to provide for her children. Her family succeeded in moving out of the dump and into a proper home nearby. The house itself would not be much larger then one floor of my own home, and yet the family of her mother, her four sisters, three girls and one of the sister’s husbands lived within that home. Michaela herself is a true superwomen if there ever was one. Despite being only twenty-two, she studied, volunteered, worked, and looked after her three year old daughter. Her family does amazing work within the community. They are using their home as a make-shift clinic, so that people in need can come and receive some basic treatment and medication. They have also welcomed a young girl into their home when her mother thought that she could not provide her daughter with what she needed. I asked them what had kept them going, and she said that “Jesus Christ had came to serve us, so why should we not serve others?”. That fits in to the theme of servanthood which has appeared in many different places, and it is one I hope that we can thoroughly understand and apply to our own lives.