Over the past two school years, two service trips have gone to Nicaragua. We participated in the most recent trip in March. The experience opened our eyes and inspired us to continue to strengthen our bond with the residents in Jiquilillo.
One of the owners of Monty’s Beach Lodge, where we stayed during our trip, is Gerry Caceres. Gerry was born in Nicaragua and studied in the U.S. This week he came to SMUS to share the work that he does for his local community. During our stay in Nicaragua Gerry was very influential and inspired us throughout our service work where he joined us on many occasions despite his busy schedule.
Throughout the trip our group helped with several service projects funded and completed by a non-profit organization called Together Works Society. This organization works closely with Gerry and many of the projects funded by Together Works Society are influenced by his insight on what the people in this part of Nicaragua need. He lives in the community and is able to speak regularly with his neighbours about what is challenging.
Therefore, we found ourselves working at the local community center, an area where English classes are taught and a gathering place for adults and kids. Throughout the trip, we helped teach English classes to students between 5 and 25 years old. The classes are free and the teacher is paid by Together Works Society. Our first couple of days also involved the organization and inventory of books in the community center. Our group brought many of these books with us from Canada to add to their growing collection.
Another project we worked on was building a community baseball diamond. Many of us worked alongside local people to clear an area for it. The work was hard in the scorching sun, as many students claimed. However, it was comforting to be joined by many of the locals, who came to work alongside us. While the diamond was not completed by our departure, Together Works Society was able to get more volunteers after we had left to continue the work.
Lastly, we went to El Limonal, a community near the city of Chinandega, to serve lunch. Unlike many communities, El Limonal is centered around a dump. The families we were serving made a living by searching through the dump to find anything they could sell. Unfortunately most families living in this community only live on $1 or $2 a day. It was evident that the people in this community led a more difficult life than those in Jiquilillo because of the lack of income. Gerry plays an important role in the development in this community as he organized the lunch that we served. Once we left El Limonal, our group was certainty impacted by the level of poverty.
Gerry’s accomplishments and insights are vital in the awareness of the growth of a developing country. His charisma and passion for his country encourage people to get involved. It is a pleasure to have him in Victoria to speak about Nicaragua.