Today we connected with a laudable non-profit called Nicaragua Children's Foundation. Founded by a family who visited Nicaragua on vacation and saw the need for educational and community development, Nicaragua Children's Foundation establishes and operates schools in San Juan del Sur and its surrounding areas. While providing materials and teachers for the schools (which are free to the public) they build, this organization also has a micro-lending section in which they provide loans to women only in efforts to alleviate poverty and empower women. Tackling poverty and women's rights in the same token really hit home with me because those are two issues that I feel strongly about.
We met with an amazing woman who coordinates the organization in San Juan del Sur named Veronica. Smiling from ear to ear upon meeting us, Veronica did more than just give us a tour of the organization's efforts and great success in a rural community just outside of the city called Miraville. She welcomed us a members of the Nicaragua Children's Foundation's family. She enthusiastically took us to meet some of the borrowers whose lives were changed forever by the foundation's loans (which only ranged from $80-$150). I heard several stories of successful businesses started by these women ranging from selling cosmetics and clothing to running pig slaughter houses. As I reflect, I think back to what people in the states often do when they receive $150. It can't even buy you some shoes! To see this small amount of money actually put to good use was humbling.
I connected with one the borrowers on a more intimate level than the rest of the women. Her name was Iraida Palma. She was short in stature but had the biggest heart. When we finished learning about the foundation's efforts and hearing the borrowers' stories, we all had a moment to chat with the women and take pictures. We discovered this mighty mango tree in the back of the school where we met. Just like tourists, we were amazed and took picture of the tree. Yet Iraida took it upon her self to use a stick to get us some mangoes. With a powerful stance and a keen eye, she threw the stick to the top of the mighty tree and mangoes dropped as gracefully as rain. We had our treasures. Though they were just mangoes, I call them treasures because they came from her. With the little that she had for her five children, she felt it in her heart to leave us with a gift. She proudly bagged the mangoes for us and smiled. I'm not sure if it is because they came from Iraida or because the tree just had a good batch of mangoes, but it was perhaps the best mango I've had in my life. Muchas Gracias.