It’s difficult for most people to imagine the lives of those who sleep on cardboard and rags, whose children have no shoes, and whose local schools have hole-filled walls and roofs—if they have walls and roofs at all.
It was exactly that level of need that a dedicated group of the college’s students sought to relieve. After months of planning an d fundraising, members of the International Business Honor Society (IBHS) in the college embarked on the NICA Global Leadership and Service Project (GLSP): “Nicaragua December of Dreams Trip to Help Kids.”
Between December 26, 2005, and January 8, 2006, seventeen students in Team Managua, led by Norman Uriate, and twelve in Team Granada, led by Christian Jarquin, traveled on rugged mountain roads to remote areas of the region to help in a variety of ways.
“Our primary project took place in the little town of Los Fierros, where we did substantial renovations on the dilapidated building where about 100 kids attend school,” Uriate said.
For seven days, the students, aided by many of the 400 families in the town, built an exterior wall, painted inside and out, replaced broken or missing windows, and repaired a swing set.
“It was like a Habitat for Humanity construction project,” he said.
And when the group visited a little girl—their “poster child” during their fundraising efforts—they spontaneously reached into their pockets to collect money to provide the family, one of the poorest in this very poor town, with beds, sheets, and materials to rebuild the shack in which the foursome lives.
A celebration at which each child received a bookbag with a toy capped off the week’s work.
The group also fixed up a second remote school, sent materials to a third for a local effort, and coordinated through a contact Uriate had in the United Nations’ World Food Program to get food to the children.
Simultaneously, Team Granada was logging twelve-hour days distributing items to three orphanages, two schools, and various slums.
“We conducted some English lessons, had sing-alongs and dancing, played with piñatas, and handed out cookies,” said Jarquin. “Mainly, we focused on passing out the first toys, shoes, and school supplies these children had ever had. We met with the directors of orphanages, nuns, and the children of the streets. We also met the archbishop of Granada.”
The results exceeded Jarquin’s expectations.
“On paper, we thought we would touch the lives of 1,350 kids, but it was closer to 1,500. In one school, Escuela Miravalle, 300 children were packed inside a classroom waiting to get their donations and there were lines everywhere we went.”
This is the second GLSP conducted by the IBHS. Their purpose is to help create responsible business leaders who understand the environment in which they’re working. The first took place in Bangkok in the spring of 2005; plans for the 2006 Bangkok trip are well underway. Participants from the Nicaragua GLSP are now thinking about sponsoring families in Los Fierros and about making another trip, this one in the summer when airfares and hotel rates will be lower.