In May 2007, Giving For Living completed its annual trip to Nicaragua. As in the previous mission, our aim was to reach out to as many people and villages as possible and give directly to the families without any middle persons. This year’s mission took us deeper into the southern part of the country and to get there, we crossed five rivers in trucks and four-wheel drives, went through miles of dirt roads in tropical forests.
In keeping with our Mission Statement “reducing poverty by guiding distribution of funds and useful objects to people in desperate need”, we set out to plan this trip. Having visited the area of Rivas in the prior trips, we chose to proceed with plans to go further south toward more remote areas, closer to the Costa Rican border. We chose Cardenas and the surrounding areas, we were introduced to he local government and the Mayor, Mr. Alvaro Martinez, who was thrilled to have us visit the area. Mr. Martinez was absolutely instrumental in making this relief trip a reality by supplying knowledge, man power, census, and truck transportation for the GFL team.
On May 6th, 2007, the US based GFL team landed in Managua, Nicaragua. Plans to begin the clothing distribution and equipment unloading were already underway by our Nicaragua based counter parts. On May 7th, we visited Mr. Martinez in his office in Cardenas. We discussed Cardenas and the surrounding area and chose those villages that are least accessible and in most need. The villages of Los Angeles, Rio Mana, and Tablone were chosen as distribution sites. Historically, these villages have received the least amount of outside help, if any at all. The Mayor provided us with individuals who have local knowledge of the area, and people. With these instrumental plans arranged, the Giving For Living mission was already in motion and we were well on our way to one of the most successful donation and distribution campaigns we have ever had.
On the morning of May 8th, 2007, we loaded our trunks and took the 3 hours drive from Rivas to the village of Los Angeles, the first of the two villages. The drive was nothing short of spectacular. The Nicaraguan country-side and tropical forests are a most pristine wilderness, untouched by technology and civil advancement.
While on our way, the loaded trucks, driven by helpers and volunteers from the Mayor’s office in Cardenas, blew the horn repeatedly as we passed through several small huts and villages. At the time, most of us wondered about the horn blowing. Shortly after we arrived at the village, it became clear why. We arrived at the village of Los Angeles by late morning and proceeded to unload the trucks. There was a small number of people awaiting us outside a local school. And within an hour, this number grew exponentially to a large crowd.
The horn blowing as a signal of our arrival, had worked masterfully. The site of families arriving in packs either walking or using donkeys, horses, and carriages, was incredible. We were given a single room in the local school large enough for us to spread and unpack our cargo.
Once unpacked, children were allowed first to pick out whatever toy or stuffed animal they wanted. They were allowed to roam and pick and choose to their liking. Every child received a toy. The smiles on their faces says it all.
To every person who donated a toy, we say thank you. Your donation and seemingly small gift went a long way in making a less fortunate child happy and smiling. You should also know that now you have a fan base in southern Nicaragua, somewhere out there in the tropical forest.
Next, the families were let in to the area to pick out the clothing for themselves and their children.The census list provided to us was an excellent guide. We ensured that each family in the village received what they needed, from shoes and clotting to toys and books. All while maintaining crowd control and safety for all.
The shoes were a big item, especially in the women category. As a male distributor of shoes, women’s included, and one of the individuals in charge of some crowd control, I felt the need to seek shelter in the safety of the truck when it was time to distribute shoes to women.This of course was done in jest and good humor.
The day ended at about 5 PM. All clothing and shoes were distributed and every household received their full share of what they needed. The site of people leaving with bags of clothing, smiling wide and ear to ear, walking down the only dirt road in the village, surrounded by plantain trees and tropical forest, was surreal to say the least.
As we were packing to leave the area, we learned that a mother and a 6 months old baby arrived late, after walking more than 2 hours from a nearby village. We made sure we knew her name and who she was. We told her about next day’s distribution site and promised to give her what she needs for herself and the baby.
On the next day of active distribution, we started even earlier then the previous day. Today’s trip was longer and took us to the village of Rio Mana. This village is further south, down the western coast of Lake Nicaragua and closer to the Costa Rican border. More rivers to be crossed awaited us and we most certainly took the plunge, one river after another.
We arrived at the village at about 11 AM. We unloaded that day’s cargo, the clothing was divided like the day prior and distribution proceeded in a similar manner. We went through the census list twice but it seemed as if the crowd and number of families were larger than the numbers anticipated. Luckily and thanks to every one of you, our donors, we had enough to provide for all.
We learned few days later, that the reason for the seemingly large number of people and families on the second day, is that rumors of our work and distribution of clothing had spread. People arrived from many surrounding villages, as far south as the border villages in northern Costa Rica. Some walked for over several hours and weathered the rains of the tropics on that day.
In case you are wondering what happen to the mother and her 6 months old baby, she was awaiting us the next day and we made sure she was provided with what she needed for herself and the baby, before regular distribution began.
The highlight of this day though was our lottery. We had large house hold items, such as shelves, large toys and some building material. Each family was provided with a number and a draw was done at the end of the day with plenty of fan fare and support.Our day ended at about 5 PM. And the GFL crew was in need of rest and relaxation after few intensive days of hard work and labor. Every moment though was absolutely worth it, to each and every one of us. Look no further then these pictures and you will understand why…
After 2 full days of distribution, some amounts of clothing, toys and books were left over, which were given to a school housing and caring for children who are mentally and physically challenged. On the morning of May 10th, we met with the director of Escuela Especial Sor Maria Romero, Miss Rosybell Zuniga, who took us on a brief tour of the school and explained to us in detail the instrumental role this school plays, not only in the lives of the children, but also the lives of parents who care for them. The school handles daily care and schooling for children who have varying degrees of disability.
That in addition to educating the parents and supporting them through the challenges of raising a disabled child. Our distribution encompassed the children and their families.
No mission to Nicaragua is complete without our regular stop at Casa Asis. Sr. Alanna was happy to see us again and to receive our goods, we were happy to be there and see the children. We draw strength from seeing Sr. Alanna dedicating her life to these orphaned children.
In addition to all the places we visited, we made many small,but important, stops along the way, everyday. Every time we saw a hut, women by the river washing cloth, children playing in the street, we made sure to stop and give them a bag, a toy, or a bicycle.
With this week a success, we concluded our mission for this year. This year’s trip provided us with a great insight into the incredible need in this part of Nicaragua. It also gave us many ideas on possible future venues in which Giving For Living is maybe able to help. We will soon explore possibilities of providing unwanted computers to schools as well as lending a hand, in anyway we can, to improve education, knowledge, and skills in the areas we work.
The United States remains one of the richest countries in the world. There is so much that is available to us, and in immense quantities that sometimes it is easy to forget the value of things we own and have, even those items that we don’t need or want.
But we are also known for our generosity. This generosity in general and your generosity more specifically, were in full view in Nicaragua on this mission and was very much appreciated by all who received and every member of the GFL team. Without your gift, your donation and your generosity all of the above would not be possible. In light of this, please keep us in mind the next time you have clothing, books or toys that you don’t want, a computer, a desk, or a table that you don’t need, and any household items that you don’t care to keep. Give us a call and we will gladly pick it up and make sure that a child, a mother, a father, a teacher or a school benefits from your donation. We will do this at no cost to you. For monetary donations, please follow the links on our web site.
- As we look toward the future, we hope to be able to help out with many projects in the villages and for the people in this part of Nicaragua
- We hope to be able to collaborate with the local health officials and doctors to provide a mobile clinic that could access remote villages.
The help we need
- If you think your company or business has a dead inventory that you would like to donate and dispose of and also get tax deduction for, please let us know. If you know of a business with this scenario, a referral to us is appreciated.
- If you know of a person that might be interested in lending a hand, please let us know.
- If you have an idea that might help us raise funds, increase our cloth/toys donations, or might help us get free or reduced cost container shipping please drop us an email.
- If you have or know someone who has experience in fund raising let us know .
- If you have or know someone who has experience in obtaining grants let us know.
The things we need
- Donated items (cloth for all ages, toys, towels, bed sheets, shoes) Cash to pay for container shipment
- Airline miles to cover our travel
- Used 4x4 pickup trucks to use in our operation.