Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Nicaragua: Adios!!

4,000 bedkits are now successfully delivered in Nicaragua and the SCAW Team had our Post-Distribtion meeting with our Rotary Partners this morning to review the activities of the past 13 days.  Our distribution would not be successful without the hard work of hundreds of volunteers behind the scenes. In this last blog for Nicaragua, we pay tribute to two groups of people who have worked with us since the SCAW Team arrived in Nicaragua on November 18th.

The first group of people are the members of The Rotary Club of Managua.  Our Rotarian Partners looked after the purchasing and warehousing of the bedkit items.  They ensured that sites were selected and volunteers were in place to help at distributions.  They coordinated the selection of the children and were extremely hospitable to members of our team.  We say a HUGE THANKS to this wonderful group of Rotarians (pictured L to R are: Rodrigo Salomon, Violeta Barreto, Francisco Ortega, and Abelardo Sanchez). In simple terms, they made it happen!
The second group of four quickly became members of our distribution team.  Three were interpreters (Marcos, Dorling, & Mario - paid for by Rotary) who travelled with us to each site and communicated when we often had difficulties with Spanish.  The fourth was our driver (Hector) who ensured we arrived safely wherever we went, day and night.  All four ended up working shoulder to shoulder with us as we delivered the bedkits and we sure appreciated having them with us.

As we prepare to leave Nicaragua tomorrow, we say MUCHO GRACIAS to our partners (and now our friends) in Nicaragua. With their great help and support, the SCAW Team kept Murray's Dream alive in Nicaragua.

Team Nicaragua.
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Monday, 2 December 2013

Nicaragua: Muchas Gracias

Today another 400 bed kits were distributed to children in the Riguero area of Managua.  That brings our final total to 4,000 bed kits and a completed distribution.

The puppets and bubbles were out today, and the first little girl I saw in line for her bedkit gave me a big hug, and chattered to me in quick Spanish.  I couldn't understand her, but could tell from the expression on her face she was excited.

It's been a busy two weeks, but our team is having a hard time believing it's all done.  4,000 children are sleeping better tonight because of our donors, our Overseas Volunteer Partners, and local volunteers.

Muchas gracias

Team Nicaragua 2013
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Nicaragua: Boaco

This morning (very early this morning in fact) found our merry team on the road again to the hill town of Boaco, about 80km NE of our home base Managua. Boaco (population 49,000) is predominantly an agricultural town with coffee and dairy being the prime products. Our host site for the distribution was the Agricultural Co-operative Tierra Nueva - set in a lush grove of organic coffee plants, banana tress and pepper bushes. This well laid out facility coupled with the enthusiastic support of a strong volunteer youth team from the Catholic University of Nicaragua made this the most efficient distribution to date.  However, as energetic as we all seemed to be inside the distribution facilty, the same could not be said for the hundreds of children receiving the bed kits. Many had travelled many miles from surrounding villages to the site. We met one woman who had walked for over two hours on climbing roads with a 6 year old and a toddler to get to Boaco. And on top of all of this, our distribution was on a Saturday meaning that the children had to get up extra early on a day off whereas distributions scheduled during the week have often meant free time off school.

So our team, always wanting perky faces for our donor's photographs, found it particularly challenging to muster smiles over yawns. As a result, we had to bring out our full arsenal of smile-enducing weaponry. Nothing like a good old Canadian dollar store for a plentiful supply of balloons, bubbles and kazoos. Our two hand puppets - Ottavio the Otter and Tortuga the Turtle worked double-overtime. Silly glasses, hairbands replete with springing bunnies and Santas were also called into action (By the way, for all you Leaf fans out there, Santa in Nicaragua dresses in blue and white!). Duncan performed an admirable slate of sleight of hand magic tricks to try and enduce the children from their slumber. As a result, I feel that the general, endearing impression many of these children must have of Canadians is that while they are very generous as donors,  some of them are just, plain weird.

Nevertheless, all in a good cause, we soldiered on and at the end of the day 411 bed kits were happily loaded into buses, trucks, donkey carts and bicycles and sent off to their new homes in Boaco and surrounding villages. Tomorrow is our last distribution - here in Managua. It is hard to believe we are almost finished our work here. I believe we will all truly miss that magic, daily connection that we get when we look into the eyes of a child as they receive their bedkits and backpacks. I believe I speak for all of our team in expressing our gratitude to SCAW and its wonderful donors for giving us this opportunity to be of service.

Stuart Culbertson for Team Nicaragua
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