It was with great excitement and eagerness that I returned to the gorgeous rainforest region of Nicaragua alongside the traveling companions I visited the region with back in 2013 — my Mom, Uncle Denis, and cousin Dr. Marco. This time I was also joined by my amazing 14-year-old son, Ethan, who has heard stories of the Bosawas for 6 years (ever since our family helped build a school in the village of Walakitang in memory of my late Aunt Olive and cousin Tammy).
As I entered the village of San Andrés, I scouted the river banks,eager to see familiar smiling faces from our trip 3 years ago. My heart is pounding and it’s harder than I thought it would be. I think I see familiar eyes here and similar smiles there, but am never quite sure. Is it the same child 3 years older or perhaps a younger sibling of my previous friends? Then, it happens! I’m walking towards the Field House, and I see one of my favourite faces — Gretchen! Her face lights up as does mine, and I know she recognizes me as well. We give each other a huge hug, and I am so grateful to have seen her in the crowd. Gretchen is as adorable today as she was then and is with her constant companion, her older sister, Wendy.
Both girls, now schooled in San Andreas, are happy, healthy and being educated in their own village. Gretchen is a smart little girl, who my mom and I taught to finger weave 3 years ago. I tied up the weaving yarn to show her again. She took the threads from me and instantly remembered the steps. I didn’t have to show her at all!
But, being girls I have to wonder how many opportunities they will get. Many villages in the Bosawas don’t have secondary schools, so girls like Gretchen and Wendy might end their education at the too young age of 12. Unfortunately the commute to secondary schools can be anywhere up to 4 hours and is therefore not a viable option for many families.
It is through these friends that I am made truly aware of the importance of Change for Children’s School Construction Project and campaign for girls’ education. And I am not only grateful, but am an extremely proud supporter.