Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Our First Day in Nicaragua!

What a start to our trip to Nicaragua!  We met at JFK bright and early yesterday morning and arrived in Managua around noon local time.  Straight from the airport, we visited Fabretto Children's Foundation.  In Nicaragua, children attend school for half days, and this amazing organization offers tutoring, computer classes, jewelry making classes, and nutritional meals for the other half of the day.  Most of the children who attend these programs live in the trash dump, where their parents look for recyclable materials to deposit and make a living.  This type of work brings in less than two dollars a day for the families.  Through organizations like Fabretto Children's Foundation, children are given the tools to succeed in school and gain an education so they can get better jobs and leave their lives in the trash dump behind.  We first visited a high school classroom, where students were completing their homework and a teacher was present to assist with any difficulties.  We then visited two very impressive computers labs.  In one of these labs, a design class was taking place.  Fabretto offers ten-week classes on Windows and Microsoft Word, at the end of which students receive certificates that greatly help them in finding better paying jobs.  After this, we visited a jewelry making workshop and talked about some complicated issues micro-lending faces in Nicaragua.  For example, most people in Nicaragua buy everything on credit, even if it is inexpensive.  People are used to paying for things on the 1st or the 15th of the month and frequently pay in several installments.  Nicaraguans end up paying a lot more for items than they are worth, as interest rates are very high.  There is also a problem of transparency, as interest rates are not published and people don't realize how much they actually pay for these items.  That's why cooperatives that involve a group tend to work better here.  We finished our visit by participating in a jewelry making workshop.  The students taught us to make bracelets and we all now have souvenirs from Nicaragua.

At night, we went to dinner with the Daughters of Charity.  We told them about our program and discussed some challenges and how to overcome them. They agreed to take us into their village to talk about their program and told us about some possible businesses including a baker.  The Daughters are wary, but presenting our program in a non-threatening way interested them.

Finally, we went to bed.  We are excited for another great day tomorrow!

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