A group of students from Notre Dame Secondary School travelled to a small rural community in Nicaragua this past March to build latrines and improve hygienic conditions for 32 families with Casa Canadiense, a non-profit organization.
Here are some reflections from the experience.
What’s something about this trip that you will never forget?
Isha Patel: Living in the rural community of Santa Julia was full of great experiences. For example, helping out the community by building latrines was a great way of understanding their way of life. Seeing how they simply got water showed how hard-working the people are. Living so simply taught me how lucky I am. Canadians have so many luxuries while Nicaraguans work so hard and barely get the necessities.
Mehul Adlakha: A specific person I met that I will never forget is Alfonzo. The first time I met him was the night that we arrived. Even though there was a huge language barrier, he tried his best to communicate with us and never gave up. There was one night where we had some very harsh weather and he came by himself to give us blankets so we wouldn’t be cold. I will never forget him.
What cultural gaps did you experience while in Nicaragua?
Isha: The behaviour, education and customs. Although Canadians have easier access to better education, Nicaraguans take education very seriously. They walk 5 km to get to the high school from the community of Santa Julia. They are very respectful. Children and adults work hard to help each other. They are close-knit and care a lot for each other. Nicaraguans are extremely welcoming. They treat everyone like family.
What questions or emotions has this trip raised for you?
Pravir Adlakha: This trip has brought about an important question for me: do we deserve to live with such comfort while knowing how people in third world countries are living? Seeing and living the life of a Nicaraguan has really forced me to question myself. There should be more understanding and solidarity in order for there to be equality between countries. We cannot just live our lives with tunnel vision, blocking off all the suffering in the world which eventually could be stopped with our help.
Isha: I feel great sympathy and guilt that we live luxuriously while they work hard to get their necessities. Although they live harder lives, they are so sweet and welcoming. I have such great respect for them. I ask myself: Why is there such a large gap between the rich and poor? Why do other countries not taking care of their own people? Why is there so much corruption?
How has this trip motivated you to create change in Canada?
Mehul: This trip has motivated me a lot to make a change in Canada, however I don’t know where to start. When I saw how the people of Nicaragua were living, it actually hurt me. I didn’t know their living conditions would be that bad. Despite all their struggles, they always had a smile on their face and that motivated me.
Pravir: This trip has really influenced me to make a change in Canada. I learned that foreign countries are also responsible for many of the problems in Nicaraugua such as pollution from mining. I want to spread this message through creative ways to benefit Nicaragua.
For more background on this story, click ere.