“It encouraged me to…open my eyes to the world”
I have traveled to various countries in the past, but my experience in Nicaragua has been the most memorable and life changing. Traveling with the Project HOPE team into the BOSAWAS was one of the most challenging, rewarding, and intense experiences of my life.
The first couple days upon arriving in San Andres, I thought to myself, “Oh my goodness, where are we?” and “What did I get myself into?” The heat was oppressive, the bugs were enormous, and the roosters were extremely obnoxious at being our natural alarm clocks. However, as we all got into the routine of life in San Andres, I began to reflect and embrace the Miskito culture. After spending a day with Rociella and Romella [a Miskito family], I learned how to make corn tortillas, vegetable soup, and the delicious sweet bread that everybody loved. The people there were genuine, kind, and hard working. They lived so simply and appreciated the beauty that surrounded them every day.
We were there for a purpose – to engage in a cultural exchange and to help build a high school that would benefit hundreds of students in San Andres and surrounding communities. This purpose was the driving force that motivated me and pushed me to work hard alongside my team members and the community workers. Collecting rocks, hauling sand, making bricks, and mixing cement were our duties. It was difficult and extremely exhausting; however, instead of the children watching us exhaust ourselves in the heat, they would join us and help, and often times giggle at us for being so tired all the time. This is how many of the relationships developed between Project HOPE and the children in the community. We worked, but also participated in many activities together, including baseball, Frisbee, and making bracelets that were extremely popular. The joy and smiles from these children touched my heart and served as a reminder of how important projects like these are.
Education is important to the future generations of children in San Andres. It gives the children opportunities to learn, engage, and make important decisions for their community. Whether it is about agriculture, food security, or water sustainability, they can be participants and make decisions about these important issues.
After two weeks of being in San Andres, I was already comfortable and used to the way of life there. I enjoyed sleeping in my hammock and practicing Spanish with the kids, although it seemed that they always laughed every time I tried. I knew the names of the kids who were always around the Casa Verde [field house] and got used to their company. A few days before we left, I thought to myself, “I am going to really miss these people.” And indeed I did, as I found myself in tears when our boats drifted away from San Andres.
This experience has changed my life for the better – it has encouraged me to continue to learn, grow, experience, and to open my eyes to the world. It has taught me the importance of team work and how a small group of people can truly make a difference. I will continue to spread awareness and tell people about Project HOPE and our experiences!
-Testimony written by Paula Dean, Team Member of Project HOPE, 2011-2012.
CFCA is a proud mentor organization of Project HOPE, a Ceiba Association initiative that is offered at MacEwan University to give students the opportunity to learn about international development and participate in a community and cultural exchange in Central America.