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First Month

April 2, 2006

I spent my first month getting to know the children and learning more about the project. I think I have met almost all of the 180 children in the program! We have a sponsorship program that just started so I spend a lot of time translating letters, taking pictures and doing short interviews with kids. I also spend time playing soccer, kickball, and other games, visiting the schools the children attend, visiting other projects, and just networking around the city. I am enjoying getting to know Anielka (the native who works on the project) and Jude (a volunteer from England).

The barrio I am working in (Villa Esperanza) is about a 20 minute walk from where I live. The roads leading to the barrio are all dirt so I imagine it will be pretty muddy come rainy season! If I ride the bike that is here, I dodge potholes, broken glass, and streams of water — a bit different than the mountain biking in CO where I am dodging water bars and rocks! There are also plenty of stray dogs, horses, chickens, cats, goats, and cows along the way!

The families live in very basic homes made of wood, tin, or sometimes concrete. I think all homes have running water (although no good sewer system) and electricity. A stream flows in the middle of the dirt road which accumulates lots of trash. A bridge was recently put up in one spot where there was waste/water flowing through the barrio from one of the factories directly behind the houses in the barrio (American owned I think). Walking through the barrio, I can always find children playing, washing clothes, cooking, sweeping, or dumping water in the street to get rid of dust. Some don’t wear clothes; others wear ripped clothing, and most wear flip flops on their feet if they are even wearing shoes.

I have learned that the children need love, affection and even perhaps just a simple sign showing them someone cares. Many parents work all day or are attending to the house and don’t necessarily have time to give the children the attention they need. Many people tend to live in one home due to large family sizes or extended family living in the home. This week I am going to begin doing more organized activities with the children. I am looking forward to spending more time with the children!

As for my living, I am in a house with 3 other women. The house is like any American home except no washing machine, TV, etc. We do have a stove, refrigerator, running water (which sometimes gets shut off), and electricity (which also goes off), and a platano and lemon tree in the back yard along with a hammock. I am really enjoying getting to know Granada and meeting new people. I have met Nicas as well as expats living in Granada. My day starts at 6 AM when I am awakened by dogs, children, or loud music and ends about 10 or 11 at night (unless of course it is a weekend where the discos are open till morning!! And I even watched the sun rise over the lake which is gorgeous).

There are many tourists and many businesses run by expats. I try to go to all the Nica places including the market, restaurants, street food, and businesses run by Nicas when possible. There is not much of a variety here with regard to food, but I am enjoying the Nica food and had my first taste of Nica pasta this past week…mmm, good!!

~ posted by Darcy

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