Thursday, 13 December 2012

Nicaragua: It's a Wrap!

The 2012 Nicaraguan bedkit distribution production has faded to black and our last distribution was a blockbuster success. Our location in the lush hills of Nandasmo outside of Masaya, created a festive mood with a local Xmas tree and crèche made of a native vine. We were treated to Xmas music with a live DJ. Tuk-tuks (see photo) were doing brisk business transporting children and their families complete with mattresses home.

“Muchas Gracias”  to our amazing Rotary hosts and to the warm and generous Nicaraguan volunteers and people all made possible by you the SCAW donors.
 Click to see all of the Nicaragua 2012 Pictures
Team Nicaragua 2012
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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Nicaragua: Lights, Camera, Action!!

Set-up today was on stage  in the courtyard of a school with Nicaraguan flags in the background. The stage was set for action!  The crew had their positions.  The characters were dressed in their new shirts and came forward by designated groups to the stage to be captured on camera.  The SCAW team prompted smiles and the children were ushered to their individual spots by the set director.  The cameraman captured the shining dark eyes, flashing smiles and energy of 400 beautiful children.
Prior to their stage entrance, Jill encouraged children to try English with, "hello", "good bye" and numbers from 1 to 10.  As they exited stage left they received their bedkits from Melanie and were escorted by a band of spirited teen volunteers.  The children were given juice and a snack and led to their waiting parents.
Tomorrow will be our final encore.

Cathy Ogilvie and Jan Pearce for Team Nicaragua 2012

Monday, 10 December 2012

Nicaragua: Esteli

Today we did a 2nd distribution in Esteli; it was our first time doing two distributions in one place.  So while it was nice to have a sleep in (breakfast wasn't until 7) it made it a little more difficult at the distribution site when we first arrived there.  Apparently many families had heard about us from the day before and word of mouth had spread -  many people arrived there hoping for a bedkit and unfortunately we had only 400 to give.  
It is hard to believe that we have already touched the lives of 3200 children - we are all saying an hola, como esta or gracias to each and every child that comes to us.
Each child that is to receive a bedkit is given a "ticket" when they come to the distribution and one thing that has struck me is that those tickets are like gold to them.  In the 3200 children that we have seen, there has not been one instance of a child losing or misplacing their ticket.  That alone shows how precious these bedkits are to these children - they clutch those tickets and protect them.
Today we had a little wait at the end with the last few girls while we waited for some more supplies to come.  Melanie and I had a great time playing basketball (with a stuffed turtle) and doing some piggy back races

Jill for Team Nicaragua 2012

Nicaragua: Special Moments

Another crack of the dawn start for Team Nicaragua and a stunning 2 hour drive past rice fields and beautiful mountainous terrain as our van climbed to our 7th distribution deep in the heart of tobacco country where cigars which rival those from Cuba are grown and rolled. Even though the area where we had our distribution today has a 1% unemployment rate, there is still a marginalized sector of the Esteli population in need of assistance for their children.

Our Rotary partners turned out in full force, including the current President and all 3 of her children, to do their critical piece in ensuring a smooth distribution.

The SCAW team members continue to experience special moments with individual children.  Today's special moments consisted of one very intimidated boy finally settling as a result of a SCAW member's gentle
soothing, and he ultimately beamed for the camera.  Judy, our team leader, received a spontaneous hug from one very grateful child and another member coaxed a short dance from a very shy boy as the children waited for their bed kits.  We all treasure these moments.

Team Nicaragua 2012

Friday, 7 December 2012

Nicaragua: Our Overseas Partner!

Rotarians with the SCAW team
We are more than half way through our Nicaraguan trip. I want to tell you how impressed we are with the commitment and generosity of our hosts, the Rotary Club of Managua. They have been preparing and working for months to set up these distributions. They have chosen needy locations, met with local church, school or community groups to explain the SCAW program and how volunteers will be needed to help on the day we give out the bedkits to the children. 
Months before they get quotes and make arrangements for the various items such as the mattress to be locally produced and ready for our arrival. They also arrange for warehousing and security of the 4000 kits to be given out.
Each day of distribution, several Rotarians are on site to help with translation, organizing local volunteers and solving any problems that may come up. They have also pitched in and rolled mattresses, moved kits, and generally helped wherever needed.
Thank you for making our work easier.


Cathy Ogilvie for Team Nicaragua 2012
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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Nicaragua: Las Mercedes

School Principal (Centre)

Today we were at Las Mercedes, a primary school for children whose parents work in the nearby factories.  The school principal is a caring, dynamic lady who also hosted a SCAW distribution last year.  The 381 children arrived from several schools in the area to receive the sorely needed bedkits.  Because of the layout of the school courtyard the children waiting to have their photo taken were able to see other children receiving their gifts.  That added an air of excitement to the proceedings.  Bubble-blowing and head-and-shoulders-knees-and-toes were also part of the fun.  The Rotarians, Rotaract members and local volunteers worked hard to keep the distribution running smoothly.  When we left the site, our van was followed through the narrow, crowded market area by a family on a motorcycle with their bedkit mattress strapped to the side of it.

It was a great day!

Team Nicaragua 2012
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Nicaragua Photo Album

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Nicaragua: Acoyapa

After our overnight stay in Juigalpa, our bedkit distribution took place on the church grounds in Acoyapa.  This is ranching country and sweet little cowboys and cowgirls came for their photos and bedkits. 

Once again, the co-ordination of all aspects of the bedkit distribution was very well organized by the Rotarians and their numerous enthusiastic volunteers.
On distribution days we interview parents regarding their thoughts about the mattress and items in the bedkit.  It has been unanimous that all bedkit items are genuinely welcomed. Parents tell us that because SCAW provides these items for their child, it frees up their already limited financial resources for other necessities.

As we left the community, we witnessed excited children and family members travelling home by foot and on colourful trucks and buses with bedkits piled high!!....Another rewarding day for Team Nicaragua 2012.

Jan for Team Nicaragua 2012
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Monday, 3 December 2012

Nicaragua: Juigalpa

Today our distribution was in Juigalpa. This community is up in the mountains just east of Lake Nicaragua. We were up at 5 am and ready to leave at 6 am for a three hour ride from Managua. When we arrived the bedkits were ready, the children were ready and we were raring to go. Once again this was a very smooth distribution thanks to Rotary, Rotoracts and all the volunteers helping the children get setup, putting on their T-Shirts, taking the children from one station to another and helping to hand out the bedkits. It would not have been this easy without all their help.
The children are so excited and can hardly contain themselves in anticipation of the bedkit they are being given by someone in Canada. It is fun interacting with them and trying to communicate in our very broken Spanish.
Harry for Team Nicaragua 2012
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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Nicaragua: Day 2!


Another 400 wide eyed children were grateful recipients of Sleeping Children bed kits and we had quite a different experience today in terms of location, setting and opening tone. We drove an hour east of Managua and were set up in a beautiful floral rural mission complete with a lively monkey. The distribution was flawless with a wonderful local volunteer team, the ever vigilant Rotarians, the ninos and of course our well oiled SCAW team (we are fast learners!). We were fortunate to be able to survey two parents, a father with one child and a mother of another, about their lives and thoughts about the bedkits and were once again struck by the effort taken with the children's grooming and how well behaved and co-operative they were.

Team Nicaragua 2012
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Saturday, 1 December 2012

Nicaragua: First Distribution!

Wow what a day!

Our first day of distribution in Nicaragua and we couldn't wait to get started.  Three of our team members had never been on a SCAW distribution before and I think we were a mixture of both nerves and excitement.  

I cannot describe the emotion that overtook us all at the sight of the children when we first entered the school yard enclosure.  The smiles and anticipation of those children waiting for our arrival was overwhelming.

There were so many special moments today starting with the children reciting their morning prayer and singing the national anthem before we got the distribution started.
The patience of the children seemed never-ending; anticipating their turn for their photograph and to receive their bedkit.

The sweetest moment of the day was when I found myself unexpectedly wrapped in a fierce hug by the cutest little girl; a moment impossible to describe.
What a day!

Jill for Nicaragua 2012
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Nicaragua: Greetings from Managua!

Today, our six member Nicaraguan team came together and met with our Overseas Volunteer Partners from the Rotary Club of Managua. We are getting set to start our first distribution tomorrow morning at a local school. 

SCAW team photo from left to right, Jan Pearce, Cathy Ogilvie, Jill Plasteras, Judy Dryden, Team Leader, Melanie Hazell, Harry Gauthier, Assistant Team Leader.  

Rotarian and Rotaract Members of the Rotary Club of Managua.

Team Nicaragua 2012
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Nicaragua 2012: Post your comments here

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