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A look at our workplace

July 5, 2008

A home in the slum
A home in the slum

The area where EI works is actually a slum or a “barrio” called Villa Esperanza.

Life is very tough for the residents of this barrio, more so because of the pitiable conditions of the place they live in.

Two of our volunteers, Patrick and Melissa Chiappetta, describe what they first saw on entering this place –

The barrio is basically one long dirt road on the outskirts of Granada. There is no reason to go there unless you call the place home, especially because the road is often difficult to travel. Large puddles of water cover entire sections of the road in places, and where there is not water, there are huge ruts and trash.

The houses that line the long dirt road are made from all sorts of scrap materials – anything from scrap metal to old wood, usually with dirt floors. It is a miracle that these structures stand at all. Many of them look like they would collapse if a strong wind blew by or someone leaned too hard on one of the walls. Most of them are about the size of the bedrooms we are used to in the States, and some of them are even smaller than the large bathrooms many people are fortunate enough to have back home.

What is even more amazing than the size of the houses is that often times, they hold families as large as ten. It is difficult to imagine, as we walk by the houses, how ten people could have enough room to lay down side by side inside of them.

In addition to the houses, most families have an open courtyard or “lawn” area enclosed by a rickety fence, often times made from barbed wire. The courtyards are just large dirt areas as well. The families seem to spend most of their time in this space. This is where they cook, eat, sit, study, shower, and go to the bathroom. Some houses have outhouses while others merely have holes in the ground to capture their waste water. While the bathroom and shower are separated from the cooking area, many families share their courtyard with pigs, chickens, hens, dogs, and the occasional cat.

The worst part about the barrio, in my opinion, is the clothing factory that is only a few hundred yards from the center of the barrio. It lets its runoff run right through a ditch through the middle of the barrio. The stench is horrible. Anielka, EI’s Program Director, said it often makes the children sick, and one time the ditch got so full that it completely flooded two of the houses in the barrio.

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In Nicaragua 50% of the kids that start 1st grade never make it to 5th grade. It is our goal to make this percentage drop significantly.

$30/month is what it takes us at Empowerment International to put a child in school. If you would like to help a child stay in school and get better life, please click on the link below or contact us

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