PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS BLOG IS NOT A REPRESENTATION OF MY HOST COUNTRY OR OF THE PEACE CORPS.
Hello family and friends!
The fundraising link to our all girls, gender empowerment camp is up and running! You will see that our committee has a lot of work to do in reaching our goal to make this opportunity a reality for the girls of Nicaragua. It would be incredible to have your support in this process (it's never fun to ask for money) and remember that all donations are tax deductible and go 100% to the camp and the girls without any administration costs! Also, let me know if you are able to donate so that I can send out thank you cards accordingly! (you are welcome to make a comment on this post) Happy Holidays and thank you so much!
I can’t believe we are already wrapping up 2015! It’s been a little tricky to get into the holiday spirit in 100+ degree weather having been born and raised in New England. However, I’m trying to learn the words to the popular Spanish Christmas songs that Mama Chepita blasts every morning while we clean the floors. November seemed to have a lot of running around. The other health volunteers of Chinandega and I had to present our all of the work that we have been doing in our communities to the heads of the Ministry of Health and our Peace Corps Health Sector staff. It was awesome to see the support that the Ministry and our counterparts have for the work we are doing in Chinandega (trust me, it makes our jobs a little easier that way!).
The new English and Environmental volunteers also swore in November and moved to site! I now have an English volunteer named Andrew who lives with me in Villanueva and he is great! I have been super lucky to be able to use him as a support for my projects as December closes the school year here in Nicaragua. All the volunteers from Leon and Chinandega got together in the middle of November so that we could all meet each other. We stayed at a El Transito Beach for a night and it was a lot of fun. It just so happened that the sea turltes eggs that the hostel had rescued earlier in the year from poachers hatched the morning we arrived so we had a super cool opportunity to release them into the ocean! It was precious.
The last two weeks of November I literally ran around with my head chopped off to prepare activities for December 1st’s World AIDS Day. I organized a health fair focused on educating the community on HIV/AIDS for the first half of the day. I was incredibly lucky to have the support of my fellow volunteer and sweet friend Jules help me alongside Andrew and health center staff. We were able to give a handful of HIV tests in the fair’s tent and educate a large number of youth and adults on HIV. I think my favorite part was making all the young guys extremely uncomfortable with condom-step practice.
Later that night, I hosted a billiards tournament at the local billiards hall. With this activity I gained support from another volunteer Kendra as well as Doctors from the health center. It was a HUGE success and we had 29 men show up for the event! Every man left with a handful of condoms and a lot more knowledge about HIV.
In other exciting news, I received a phone call last Thursday that I had been accepted to be a part of the Peace Corps Nicaragua Gender and Development Committee, compiled of 12 volunteers here in Nicaragua. The vision of our group is that “power, respect and opportunity are no longer gendered” and a mission to “promote sustainable gender equality, both for Nicaraguans and Peace Corps Volunteers by providing camps, technical trainings, and resources.” For those of you who know me, I nearly passed out when I found out I’d been accepted. We had a meeting this past weekend to welcome us 3 new members and also to talk about all of the great upcoming events that we will be hosting. PLEASE BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR A FUNDRAISING LINK THAT I WILL BE SENDING OUT TO SUPPORT OUR ALL GIRLS GENDER EMPOWERMENT/LEADERSHIP CAMP THAT WE WILL BE PUTTING ON FOR GIRLS FROM ALL OVER NICARAGUA AT THE END OF JANUARY (CAMP GLOW)! IT’D BE AN AWESOME [AND TAX DEDUCTABLE] WAY TO GIVE BACK THIS HOLIDAY SEASON! Additionally, at the end of the meeting, I had an incredible honor of being nominated and selected to be a new co-chair of the committee because our 2 co-chairs will be leaving this spring. I definitely have a whole bunch of nerves about living up to the awesome co-chairs I will be replacing but I am excited to take this bull by the horns and have them as mentors for a little while before they depart. I truly wish I was a better writer to get through how pumped I am to be a part of this group, SHOOT!
Looking ahead, I am coordinating a gender equality sports camp that will be put on here in Villanueva for little boys from 8-12 years old in the beginning of January. I am so soooo excited about this project and am getting together the last details before the holidays commence! I will be headed out to Panama with some other volunteers to celebrate Christmas and New Years and am really starting to feel the time crunch as that is in LITERALLY 2 weeks from today… yikes.
The past few days we have been celebrating Purisima here which is basically just like Halloween in the states but celebrated by all ages and you go to houses to sing in front of these beautiful little shrines that are made to honor the Virgin Mary. I joined some friends last night to “Gritar” (trick or treat, kind of) and TOTALLY hit the jackpot. My treasures were: a bucket, a dessert of squash and honey (don’t bash it til you try it), an orange, candy, a plastic bowl, a nacatamal, and soap! We should honestly be more practical with our treats in the states. I got dinner, dessert, and stuff to clean with all in one round of my neighborhood! But seriously, I really enjoyed this holiday. It was beautiful to watch a community share. The rich, the poor, the middle, everyone supported everyone and sang their hearts out in thanks to the Lord. Even when houses ran out of treat and goods, groups still went to the houses to sing. It was a very humbling night. My family hosted a huge “Rosario” today in our house with about 40 people. My host mom gave fruit, yogurt, plates/bowls, reusable bags, candy, juice, and toys for the kids. The holidays have a huge element of giving and I want us all to remember the importance of the beautiful FIRST gift of Jesus when we get so distracted with materialism. The simplicity of it is much more beautiful than anything we can purchase.
For everyone up in the states, make a snow angel for me this winter please! I’ll be sweating, as usual, for you down here.