Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 6 Managua

Our last full day in Managua was enjoyed doing various activities. We kicked off the day with some healthy breakfast of avocados, fruit and mango juice. The new found secret!

After breakfast we cruised over to the inactive volcano Mombacho and we took the rain forest tour up there. We were not dressed appropriately and thus we paid for it. By the time we were done with the 1.5 hour hike up and around the rain forest we were soaked, cold, hungry and a little tired. But we werent complaining. We enjoyed lunch by Lagoon Apoya the sight was breathtaking and on the bottom of the lagoon there are hotels.

Next lunch we visited the town of Katerina which we bought more souvenirs and I impulsively bought a leather bag...All the items were of quality and most handmade. Katerina is a quint little town and they had these statues of this women posing and she is suppose to represent the women of the area.

We finally made our way to the Masaya Volcano and much of the roads were closed off but we were able to see an active crater and it was amazing. The sulfur smell was not that strong but at one point I did take in some gas and started to cough like crazy. The other side of the volcano closed because of a forest fire that started at the end of the rainy season.

By the end of the day reality was creeping in on us. We were sad to see our time end in Nicaragua but I will always remember this time with the other fellows, Dr. Sama, Dave Grossman, the Daughters, Latitude Sisters, Manfred and all the locals Nicas we met. Saying goodbye is never easy but memories and photos are things we will always have.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 4: Granada, colors everywhere.

Everyday just kept inspiring me more and more. After two days, we left Maderas Village after breakfast and we traveled to Granada. We drove for about a hour and my goodness, this town is beautiful. 

Everyday just kept inspiring me more and more. After two days, we left Maderas Village after breakfast and we traveled to Granada. We drove for about a hour and my goodness, this town is beautiful. 

The houses were very colorful and colonial. Everything looked so homely and it felt as though we went back in time. We saw the central park and dropped our bags and after, we traveled to Mi Museo, a museum in Granada, owned by Peder Kolind. Peder Peder has established himself as a major influence in Granada; from an education complex to creating a community to just giving advice on life and business. He takes great joy in his education project called Carita Feliz. He had an arsenal of ideas that really have moved the town of Granada. He implemented his ‘own currency’. By this, he created “Caritas” which allowed mostly children exchange for Cordobas or goods. In order to make Caritas, children have to serve the community or follow certain rules. This way, they became responsible and mature at a young age.

I thought this was an interesting way of giving incentive and teaching. Peder was definitely an inspiration. He too believed that in order for people to succeed in philanthropy or any kind of poverty alleviation, the needs of the people must be addressed. He also mentioned how important it is for Nicaraguans to know their identity and have dignity. He established this museum for the people to understand their history. Through this knowledge of history, the people would then know their culture and distinguish themselves from this culture that involves handouts. How was he able to accomplish this? Well, he was the person who invented the security system for homes. With that money, he opened a luxury hotel and is able to sustain these great works. He mentioned that we didn’t have to invent anything but rather understand what is missing in an area and ask if people want what is missing.

We enjoyed an awesome lunch at Tres Ojos and then made our way to Masaya, where the active volcano is and where there is a tourist market. We visited the market and saw many handmade items including: leather wallets, bags, masks, and pottery. A lot of these vendors probably know that there are tourist coming all the time and usually price everything around the same. We had a few successful deals because of the market’s popularity. After a hour or so, we traveled to Carita Feliz. 

At Carita Feliz, we witnessed a variety of programs. There was a computer area where children were learning how to use the computer. In another area, there was a skit for Mother’s Day, which the kids absolutely enjoyed. After this skit, there were adults who came in for zumba classes. The skit was bizarre; it’s based on a song, where there is a cheating husband and the wife and the husband hit each other throughout the skit. This is supposed to be the Mother’s Day skit. But it seemed fine with the kids, but as they grow older, hopefully this mindset is different. However, it’s impressive what Carita Feliz does. It provides supplementary learning, nutrition, and most importantly, love for children from ages 3-15. One of the administrators who was taking us around the facility described how sometimes the parents might not be around because of work and then the kids don’t feel as encouraged to pursue an education. 

After the tour, we were invited to dinner. This dinner sometimes serves 1000 students and this occurs everyday throughout the school week with the exception of Wednesday. We were all humbled by the invitation. We gave the administrator our supplies that we had and they gave us a poster with the 1050 students that currently attend. We exchanged goodbyes and we were off to the Central Park of Granada.

Culture is very important and in May, Nicaragua celebrates the Virgin Mary, wrapping up with Mother’s Day. There was a big celebration going on in central park and we were able to visit the cathedral before the congregation entered the church. I was completely impressed by the celebrations and just how everyone seems to love to be around the park, together. 

Day 5 Managua

Close to the end of our trip now and what was a light Friday became one that was booked with many meetings.

First we met with Agora Partnerships. Agora has a subdivision known as Agora Thriive and this program's purpose is to give out loans to entrepreneurs that they have selected. Instead of having the entrepreneurs repay the loan with physical money the loans are repaid by giving what ever good the company makes to the community. Thus the company really becomes social minded and learn about social responsibility. This is a new model that is successful, different and really pushes for establish business to give back. Not only are the businesses benefiting but also the community is too, thus its a real sense of paying it forward. Often times the business will continue to give back even after their loan is repaid and that is what Agora Thriive is really trying to establish in giving out these loans. The women whom took the time to speak with us is Vanessa and she has only been with Agora for 8 months yet she is very knowledgeable about the mission and vision of Agora Thriive.

Following Agora we had lunch with Global Partnerships. Global Partnerships was very interested in GLOBE and our mission and visions. They had many questions and were eager to give us insight and feedback. I really enjoyed spending time with them because of this.

Global Partnerships is a NGO that invest in other micro-loan institutions. They are currently in 11 countries but are expanding and seeking partnerships in Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. The interest rates to these micro-loan institutions are about 10% and the sums are quiet large. Thus if the micro-loan does not follow the guidelines set they can be drop from the Partnerships. The members of Global Partnerships all handle different countries and each one is very knowledgeable about the organization and what they have to do to make sure that their loans are repaid.

Finally after the meeting with Global Partnerships we met with the Daughters of Charity. The Daughters of Charity rounded up everyone they knew. Most of them being females. These women were ready and eager to find out more about GLOBE and what we had to offer. In particular one women, who teaches math at the School of St. Louis de Marillac wanted a loan to further her education and go to college. Another women wanted to open a library/school supply store because currently mothers have to travel far to get these goods. Then there was another women whom needed a loan to start a business so that she can get treatment for her cancer. All of these women had ideas and basic education, in turn they were able to figure out the interest rates of the loan and most had ideas for a business. Furthermore, it was exciting to see all these women at the school filled with questions about GLOBE.

After that fantastic and successful meeting we head back to the La Pyramid Hotel and had dinner and planned our last day in Nicaragua.

Day 4 Granada

After two relaxing days in the Maderas Village we boogied on down to Granada, the city of Granada had the feel of a small colonial town, it is a very charming place. I have been to another Granada, the one in Spain and it did not disappoint and this one did not either. 

In Granada we met Peder Kolind whom runs Carita Feliz. He is a very successful businessman whom obtain his fortune building up the security alarm industry. He is retired yet his entrepreneurship and his creativity has not ceased. Other than his security company his fortune also comes from his luxury hotel. He invited us to visit the school which we did later in the day.

After lunch at Tres Ojos we drove to the town of Masaya the home of the active volcano and market. We spent a little time in the market and where we were able to buy native art such as the indigenous masks. The market is set up in a old fort and it is a very touristy location and thus there was little bargaining.

Following the market we went back into town and visited the school Carita Feliz. The school was just on the outer part of Granada and the space was huge. The schools boasts about 1050 students and every evening dinner is provided with the exception of Wednesday. The students range from preschoolers to secondary schoolers.

Upon our arrival we were able to watch them perform a skit for Mother's Day. The play consisted of a man cheating on his wife with another women and he goes onto beating his wife. I was a little shocked to see that the children were exposed to this but, this little piece could be a part of a bigger story. We hope so.

At the end of our visit we gave them our school supplies and in turn the Director gave us posters with the faces of the 1050 kids. They also invited us to stay for dinner. Back in town we took a quick stroll through their Central Park which was a plaza and visited the cathedral. In celebration of Mother's Day at the end of the month their were fire crackers and flares, this reminded me a lot of Fallas in Valencia.

To top off the night we went to an authentic Nica restaurant called La Zanguan, the garage, and the steak was amazing and so was the decoration and service. I will forever remember this place.

Day 5

We woke up early to travel back to Managua yesterday and started our day with a visit to Agora Partnerships.  Vanessa Castro greeted us and told us about Thriive Capital, a foundation that makes interest-free loans to businesses that are too large for microloans and too big for commercial loans.  Thriive allows borrowers to use this money to purchase machines or equipment, and encourages payback by putting the title to the machines in Agora's name for the first year.  Businesses repay these loans through goods or community services instead of cash.  In this way, Agora promotes the greater good of the community.  For example, a baker might donate bread to a local school, and the retail price of this bread will be deducted from the loan balance.  A basket weaver might offer a workshop to a group of local women in order to pay back a loan.  Thriive encourages loan recipients to offer workshops so that community members are left with a lasting skill that they can use in their lives and their businesses.  Vanessa told us that Agora has found that once loans are repaid in full, recipients tend to continue helping the community because of the satisfaction they feel when providing these services.

After Agora, we went to Global Partnerships, an impact investor that works with Microfinance Organizations in several countries to help those living in poverty.  They focus on five key areas: health care, rural livelihoods, microentrepreneurship, green technology, and women's empowerment.  They told us about their model and we told them about GLOBE, and they offered some advice for operating in Nicaragua.

Finally, we revisited the daughters of charity that we had met with on our first night in Managua.  We entered a room of about thirty women, all potential borrowers and recipients of GLOBE funds.  They were enthusiastic about the program and very smart.  Some of the women were calculating interest on a declining balance and asking us questions and others were telling us about the businesses they wanted to run.  One woman wanted a loan to study mathematics in the local college, and told us the cost of tuition, books, and transportation.  Some of the women were concerned about running businesses because they thought they needed to run them out of their homes, but they did not have houses.  Another woman was there with her nine year old daughter.  Her daughter wanted to start a crafting business to pay for her mother's treatment for ovarian cancer.  We promised her that we would review this application with a priority, and were moved by the family's need and determination.

We left feeling very optimistic about Nicaragua.  There is so much need here but so much potential.  We hope that we will receive several loan applications from the area and that next semester's class can establish a great presence here.

Dia trés

The night before, I was curious as to who was going to take us around to show us the Latitude Project, a Non-Profit Organization that addresses the needs of communities near San Juan del Sur but are difficult to get to because of rough terrain and flooding during the rainy season. It turns out that two sisters, Jennifer and Alanna, founded the Latitude Project, and they’re quite the inspiration. They started a couple of years back and believed that the importance of helping is to listen and to understand the needs of the community. Many of these families had inadequate roofs and needed a bigger place for students to go to school that was nearby. Through their own funding and determination, the sisters acquired the resources and the people of the communities they were in had to decide who really needed the roofs. The roofs were then put together and placed by the community to make sure rain wouldn’t damage homes.

As for the education, the sisters created a small school for younger kids and a preschool. This community was interesting, especially the children. They’re not used to having visitors. Everyone knows everyone in this specific community. The children were very shy. They were very surprised about having strangers in the room. We tried to engage and eventually got some of the kids to engage.  We gave the kids stickers and despite the shyness, they did say bye. On this note though, I really have to commend the sisters. Alanna mentioned how the kids had a similar reaction when her and Jennifer arrived and now the kids were really happy about seeing them both. Aside from creating these educational areas, they also take the children to the beach. Despite being near a beach, hardly anyone has a vehicle. There is probably one person with a motorbike in the community and that’s it. Everyone probably has horses. Horses in Nicaragua are cheap compared to other places: $200. Even so, that is still a bit expensive for some of these families.

We walked over to several houses, all of which greeted our hosts with open arms. The sisters and the people in the community got along so well, it was quite beautiful. The sisters were checking on the community because they were leaving. The sisters maintain the project with their own funding, working several jobs for several months and then coming back to Nicaragua. So much effort put into helping this community and a few other communities, it's quite an enormous feat. I really admire their work and hopefully good fortune is in their while trying to find donors. 

Towards the end of our tour, we walked into the house of a family, which had doubled the size of their house within a month. They're quite a big family, 8 or so, trying to squeeze into a house. They had little decorations and a tiny garden in front of their door entrance. That's one thing I think that gets lost with having too many things: appreciation and making the best of what you presently have. Despite the little they own, the family painted a few things and added a few pictures to the house. It was lovely taking a look at everything and just seeing how they were still happy. They welcomed us and they were sweet. The sisters took note of the decor and we followed suit. The family members smiled as they said that they drew some of the artwork on the house. 

We met the little girl in the preschool the sisters had created. She was very shy and at one point we thought that maybe she thought we were after her bag! The family then decided to show us the inside of the house and the reality is that beds are what consist of the inside of the house. There are no doors, rather, a curtain or a blanket separates the doors and even the bed spaces. We bided adieu to the family and we walked back to our truck. A long day in the sun and we didn't let that get in the way of embracing all of the information and effort the sisters have put into this community. We returned to our vehicles and left a few things for the school, and left them with a little piece of St. John's with the string bag. 

We then parted ways with the sisters in San Juan del Sur. They have a few things to take care of and we had sometime to take a look at things and we decided to take a trip to Christ of the Mercy. This Christ stands at 79 feet tall. An awesome view and an amazing sculpture which shows the faith of the people of Nicaragua. 

Afterward, we headed back to the hotel and had pizza for dinner. This pizza was special because it was made by a man from Rome and it really reminded me of my days abroad in Rome. Very thankful for that experience and this one. After several slices and stories, we were off to the hotel, to rest for the next day. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day Two: Supply Hope and Nica-Agua

Que fantastico segundo dia! We rode to Supply Hope, a non-profit organization to focuses on micro-franchises and they have a one major micro-franchise, called Mercado Fresco. Supply Hope has 12 Mercados Frescos all throughout lower income communities throughout Managua.  Ricardo and Claudia who introduced Supply Hope and the idea of micro-franchise. Mercado Fresco is geared towards providing healthy foods to lower income areas of Nicaragua. Along with providing fresh food, Mercado Fresco offers sanitary products. Ricardo explained to us how cheese, for instance, is put in the same trucks with pigs, then the cheese is being put on the floor, near farm animals and lots of trash put the floor. It is incredible how many of the low income communities find it acceptable. I can’t blame them though; it’s expensive to go outside of the area and why bother traveling when the cheese is nearby. 

The idea of a Micro-Franchise is interesting. It's having a business plan and enlisting someone who seems to be qualified enough to maintain and follow the plan. There is training that has to occur in order to understand business transactions along with understanding the needs and importance of proper nutrition and sanitation when selling. There also has to be space between franchise stores, or else they would cannibalize, meaning that they would be competing against each other. In order to run a store like this, it is imperative that customers understand why they should purchase these goods as opposed to the junk food or dirty produce that's nearby and easier to access. 

We traveled to what used to be the dumps and we met Margaret, who runs 1 of the 12 Mercados. We saw fresh produce and I was pretty hungry, so I definitely would bought something from there had I had cash on me. It’s just a travesty that in Nicaragua and especially in Nicaragua, there are a lot of adults with diabetes. This is attributed to the dieting. A typical Nicaraguan with a lower income, purchases a soft drink and chips for breakfast. It’s cheap and it’s fast, so why not? And a lot of the markets in the area usually only have junk food and soda. It’s nice to have these kinds of snacks every now and then but to have it every morning is definitely going to cause harm in the long run.

I’m very thankful for just having options to eat whenever I am back in the states and it’s an incredible job that Supply Hope is doing. Ricardo explained that this is definitely a project that will take time. Along with selling this fresh produce, it’s also imperative to educate the people to understand why eating fresh produce is beneficial and why all that junk food can harm you. Margaret explained how bad her living conditions were awful. These houses might lack insolation, air conditioning, and doors but before, this area used to be a dump. A landfill. Los Chachareos as our driver mentioned. After our goodbyes and a few pictures, we parted ways and were on our way to Tola.

After a two and a half hour drive, we arrived in Tola. There we met Jon Thompson, who ‘wears several hats’ in the community. He graduated with a degree in history and then received his masters in social work. He started off as a volunteer that would go a few times a year to help but then He has his non-profit, Comunidad Connect, and he also works for Guacalito De la Isla. He really wanted to bring more to the children. He mentioned that you can’t exactly force something on a different type of people but you can expect that they need education, health and water. So he decided to bring both of his main ‘hats’ together to provide water filters for children and provide a medical post to help those already sick. In Nicaragua, 40% of infant mortality is attributed to diarrhea. Along with diarrhea, people in the community often get UTI and other preventable diseases, all of which clean water can fix. However, Jon mentioned that he went to a conference and asked what was the most important thing about the water filters that are being provided to people who need access to clean water. The answer was not how many filters but how to maintain, how to use, and how to keep healthy and avoiding contaminated water. He then was inspired to create a project called 'Nica Agua".

Jon then took us to see one of the families who owned a water filter. In this community, service is a huge aspect of maintaining. For families to receive filters, they must take a course in health and also learn how to use the filters before actually getting the filters. Then, they must complete hours of community service. Jon and his non-profit also follow up on the families who receive these filters. We then went to a family who owned a filter. It’s crazy how back in the US, there are these expensive filters that are 50, 100, 200 bucks and our tap water, for the most part, is drinkable. Water is so precious and here in Nicaragua, it’s extremely hot and humid, people need water constantly.

The woman of the household was named Felipa (Had a huge laugh about that!) and she explained to us how wonderful and useful the water filter (the blue bucket shaped item) was. She said that the overall living of her family has increased and that she uses it for everything. She was incredibly sweet and thanked Jon for his tremendous effort and determination in aiding everyone around the area. Jon was really humbled and definitely content in staying humble. After she had told us the benefits that the filter and Jon brought to the community, we walked around the house, and then we were on our way to San Juan del Sur. Seeing her face light up with joy and pride in having Jon around was truly amazing. Just goes to show the gratitude that one can have for a lifetime.

We drove through San Juan del Sur and we found ourselves at a hotel called Maderas Village, David Grossman’s hotel. We dropped our bags and after a long and hot day, we walked over to the beach to cool ourselves with some ocean waves. We watched the sun sink into the sea as the grey clouds came closer to us.

Nicaragua: Day 3

“Inspirational” is one of the many words I can think of to describe my third day in Nicaragua. After arriving in San Juan Del Sur day before, I had a chance to meet with Alanna and Jennifer Tynan, two sisters who founded the Latitude Project, briefly in the Hotel. When I saw them at first, I had a very little knowledge about their work with the Latitude Project. After a minute or two conversation(s) with both of them, they told me and Dr. Sama that they are taking us to a community tour next morning.  
While we were on our way to the community tour, Sally (GLOBE Fellow), my Spanish teachers in this trip, told us how these two sisters would spend half of the year in Canada working in two or three jobs to fund their projects in Nicaragua. As Sally was telling us about their story, I saw both sisters picking up people in their van from the road and dropping them off to their destinations, as people in that community lacked adequate transportation. When we arrived in the village, Alanna and Jennifer first took us to a pre-school that they built couple of years ago. It did not take me a long time to see the strong attachment of these two sisters to this particular community. While we had tough time interacting with the kids in the school, it seemed like most of the kids embraced both sisters as if they were their own family members. From the visit to pre-school to our last visit at a small house in that village, Alanna and Jennifer Tynan’s strong bond with the villagers were on full display, as they were checking up on their roof projects, and making arraignment to bring government funded lunch for students from another town. In one instance, for example, they stopped by a house to see how a new born baby and mom were doing.  
As we were walking around the village, we saw the positive impacts of these two sisters on this particular community. They not only had the roof projects to protect villagers during the rainy seasons, but they have been working tirelessly to improve the health and education in that village. The Latitude Projected invested money on sanitation, especially building latrines, to reduce the chances of preventable diseases, such as diarrhea. Not only are they are building those things, they coming back to these villages on their own to follow up. If I recall correctly, Dr. Sama asked them how secure they feel doing such projects around different communities in Nicaragua on their own. In reply, one of the sisters said that they feel very secure and the people in the community would never let anything happen to them. It was really amazing to see how these two young women from Canada connected with the people in a rural village in Nicaragua so well.
It was really inspiring to see the commitment and dedication of these two sisters to make a difference in the lives of many Nicaraguan. They could be anything they want to be in Canada, yet they chose to come to a rural village in Nicaragua, which is very much disconnected from the outside world, and help underprivileged people. I don’t think anything other than the word “Inspiration” would be a right to describe my third day in Nicaragua.    

Day 3 San Juan del Sur y Latitude Project

Last night I spoke with Jennifer, one of the Latitude sisters the other being Alanna, and she told me about what their programs that they have implemented. The Sisters are all about changing the perception of charity and NGO. Jenn stressed the idea that in order to run a successful NGO, the first step has to be about listening to the needs of the community. That is exactly what the Sisters have been doing they have community meetings and in these meetings the priority are given to the worst issue. For example with the community we visited, the Sisters built a pre-school then they went onto reroofing some homes and putting up Latrines.

This particular community is home to about 450 residents, the houses are generally spread out there are a few that are close to one another. The dirt roads paved the community and were decorated by feces. The animals in the community are free to roam as they choose. The people in the community normally hitchhike to and from town or they go on horseback. The community is isolated from the other communities and towns. The horses in Nicaragua only cost about $200 dollars which is relatively cheap.

The preschool had about 30-40 kids which were shy around us. They were not used to visitors and seeing so many some kids were overwhelmed. We gave the kids stickers and some school supplies we bought. Following the preschool we visited some of the homes in the community. First we went to Big Mamma’s house and checked in on her mattress. She said that with the new mattress she has been having rich dreams. Next we walked 15 minutes up the way to another house. This house had barbwire and flowers planted in front at the entrance. This house was so clean and well kept. We had the delight of meeting a 9 day old baby. Her name is Emily and seeing her really bought joy into my heart. The family was very proud of their house and all they had. The Nicaraguans are proud and embraces everything that they do have. It was very grounding to not only see how happy these people are but also the work that the Sisters have done for their communities. The Sisters take care of 10 communities and they fund the program 100%. Jenn and Alana spend half the year in Nicaragua and the other half home, in Canada, to raise money. The Sisters are currently staying without any cost to them at the Maderas Village.

After the visit to the community we visited the Jesus the Merciful Statue which is on top of the hill in San Juan del Sur and we concluded the night with some authentic Roman Italian pizza. 

Day 2 Managua y San Juan del Sur

We kicked off the morning with breakfast I am making note of this because it was very tasty. Not only was it fresh but also organic. The pineapple was white and not yellow like we are used too back home. The other fruits were very sweet especially the banana. The yoke of the egg were a little more orange than yellow and I was very excited to be able to have them over easy.

Following breakfast we went to supply hope and had a crash course in micro-franchising the speaker Ricardo was very passionate and very welcoming. He then took us to visit Margret who is running one of the micro-franchises called Mercado Fresco. Mercado Fresco supplies organic healthy foods to the locals. The food is not only nutritious but also very affordable the families in these low income communities usually purchase cheap goods from the junk foods ridden botega. 

After we drove for two hours to Tolas we met with Jon Thompson and he introduced us to Nica Agua which is a water filtration program. The filtration is done by these clay pots which look like flower pots. We visited Felipa a user, community leader and advocate of the Filtron. She said since using this filter there as been better cooking and stomach issues have ceased. Her home is filled with animals from piglets to ducklings. She is a huge fan of the Filtron. 

He also runs Communidad Connect linked here: http://www.comunidadconnect.org/ which has a number of different programs. The one that stood out me the most is the Sustainable Tourism. This programs allows for people to come to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua to do volunteer work. This is an inexpensive way to give back. Most impressive is that the money raised from this cause is used to run the rest of the Communidad Connect programs. 

At the end of the day we drove up to Playa Maderas which is the hotel that David Grossman built with his partners. The hotel reminds me of those picturesque Fiji homes, but on land instead of on water. The homes with the straw roofs. We did not waste any time and headed down to the beach. The tide was very strong and being a weak swimmer I stayed close to the shore. Its hard to describe the beach and even harder to describe the emotions that consumed me. None the less it was a sight to see and somewhere I would like to return too. 

Day 4

Yesterday we met with Peder Kolind of Carita Feliz in Granada.  He told us about his projects, including an innovative housing project.  In order to live in the community of houses that Peder built, residents had to follow five rules.  The first was that they cannot beat their wives.  He said that wife beating could sometimes be a bragging point in poor communities, and he will evict any residents who partake in this practice.  The other rules were that you cannot mistreat your children, you cannot keep pigs, chickens, or other unsanitary animals, you have to pay your mortgage on time, and you can’t throw trash on the ground.  He found that when residents follow these rules, the people end up much happier and have a better sense of community.  Another project was a kindergarten.  This school welcomes any child regardless of family income, and offers resources to help them succeed.  We visited the school, and were very impressed with it.  The students were taking a computer class and learning to type from age three.  Others were doing zumba and practicing for a dance show they would be presenting to their parents the next week.  The students here were so excited to see us and wanted to talk and take pictures with us.  We gave them school supplies and they presented us with a poster of 250 of the children.  One of the most impressive things that Peder told us is that he tells students starting in kindergarten that he will support them all the way until they are doctors or lawyers or whatever they wanted to be as long as they studied.  This gives students motivation to study as they see a real means to change their lives and become successful.

There are so many good people doing so many good things in Nicaragua.  It is inspiring to see their dedication to helping others working to better the lives of others.

We spent the rest of the day looking around the beautiful colonial city of Granada.  We actually ran into Peder again on the street later, and he recommended a great restaurant to us.  We saw the Cathedral, where there was a celebration going on with fireworks and music.  We ended our day with a swim in the hotel pool, a perfect ending to a perfect day.