Saturday, May 21, 2016

Waves of Hope

For this entire second week we have been staying in a small community in Chinandega  right on the Pacific coast of northwestern Nicaragua.  This village contains a  non-profit effort, Waves of Hope, which was  envisioned and created by a group of friends from Canada.  Their vision was to assist and empower the local people in order to slowly create a difference in the community.

Upon beginning their work, these young men knew that they wanted to approach non-profit work in a very distinct way.  Primarily, they wanted to give the community the necessary tools to succeed rather than do the work themselves, so that eventually they could step back and give the community the framework for sustainable success.  Secondarily, they wanted to make a point to ask the town what they felt was needed and start there rather than assuming that they knew what was best for the people.

After establishing these parameters, they approached the community to identify some areas that needed some assistance.  The first was education.  In this rural area, there are very few schools and many kids would have to travel 22 kilometers to attend school.  Given that education was not easily accessible, most families would rather keep their kids at home to work than expend resources getting their kids to school.  So, Waves of Hope took on the project of helping to sustain an elementary school that had been built in the area by another non-profit, which was left incomplete and non-functioning.  The government agreed to provide teachers if Waves of Hope could supply the school with what it needed.  This deal has been held up to this day and there is relatively consistent attendance at the elementary school.  A second education project was the local high school.  Just like primary school, the nearest high school was very far away and many kids were not motivated to attend.  So the next big project for Waves of Hope was building a local high school, which was completed and will have its first graduating class this year!

The second area in which the community identified a need for help was healthcare.  The issue with healthcare is similar to education: the distance to proper facilities poses a problem.  A local woman runs a clinic in the surrounding village, and Waves of Hope does everything in its power to help this clinic maintain plenty of supplies.

The third area that needed attention in the community was employment.  Much of the employment in the area was seasonal and did not allow for the locals to provide consistently for their families.  These four Canadians were able to create stable employment for nearly thirty people in the community.  In addition, Waves of Hope created a turtle hatching program that served the community.  Turtle eggs are often dug up by the locals to be sold in the nearby city at a profit.  These eggs are often eaten, never allowing turtles to hatch.  The solution was for the brains behind  Waves of Hope to buy the eggs from the people who dug them up so that they would still get the money they needed to feed their families.  However, the eggs were then reburied and watched until they hatched so that the turtles could definitively make it to the ocean as they were supposed to.

We learned about all these projects after talking with Earl, one of the founders of Waves of Hope.  Aside from these projects, this incredibly impressive organization focuses on sustainability in the community. I feel proud to have been able to be a part of the difference they have made and will continue to make. 

Meredith Rector

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