|Charlie 1 – Natural Resource Management Project|
|Cuallitlan Hotel – Induction Location|
- A cultural awareness presentation
- 1:1 medicals
- A brief history of Nicaragua
- 6 project briefings
- Raleigh ice-breakers!
On our last induction day, we took the bus straight down to the riverside in order to practise using tools safely, how to cross a river and how to perform a team ‘casevac’ (casualty evacuation: taking an injured team member on a make-shift stretcher to a safe location!).
|Fiery, little red army ants
at our practise site
|Picturesque river crossings|
We close the final day with a classic ‘Charlie vs Charlie’ challenge! Each task involved teamworking whether solving a logical puzzle or a physical feat. With just 1 – 2 days together, we were thrown straight into the task, attempting to teamwork amongst 14 others in our group.
The evening closed with a slideshow of pictures and the announcement of the CvsC winning team….Charlie 1! I felt a genuine burst of happiness and pride, having secured such a early victory in the induction phase.
Introduction to our Community
It’s a four hour, mountainous drive to our community, El Cacao, in Achuapa. There is a small crowd awaiting our arrival and a welcome speech is made.
Ben, Ana and I are placed together in a household. As we gather our belongings, we realise that we are staying in the same house as Yamil and Naomi. We become fondly known as ‘the house of 5’ and we spend our first day playing frisbee with the kids in the monsoon rainfall and conversing with our new host family (our host dad, Jader, was an ex-Raleigh volunteer!).
|My new room|
- We wrote up and brain stormed team rules.
- Designed a map of the local community, showing all the homestay locations for Raleigh HQ.
- A visit from another Raleigh group, Charlie II.
- A trip to the river with the locals.
- Macheted and cleared an overgrown football pitch with the help of the locals (3 – 4 days to complete due to monsoon rainfall).
- Planned the first Women’s group meeting.
|Clearing the football pitch!|
- The clearing of the overgrown plants outside the community centre.
- The start of water infrastructure work (digging trenches: 7:00am – 12:00pm).
- Environmental youth film night.
- Translation of water manual and formulation of waterworks map.
- CAPS meeting (Water committee) and Womens Meeting.
- x2 school sessions on conservation and environmental issues.
- Trek to a coffee plantation.
- A visit from a Raleigh staff member, Pedro.
- Trip to the local town, Achuapa.
There was one afternoon where I sat beneath the community tree with two girls. Tatiana found 5 pesos (UK equivalent of 15p) on the ground. She was overjoyed with her luck. She skipped to the shops and purchased three lollypops, graciously handing me one with a smile and another to her friend. It is within these small moments we encounter compassion, empathy and genuine selflessness.
I loved how such a small but significant act demonstrates utter humility. I think of the UK. There is a stark difference in wealth, I wonder if we would act in the same manner. If I or a friend found £5.00 on the floor, would we share it?
We make these conscious decisions everyday and I feel that the exposure to these random acts of kindness upon my travels makes me thrive to be more and more loving as an individual.
The Start of Water Infrastructure Work
Day 17 marks the beginning of the water infrastructure work. On the previous day, we trekked together as a team to the old Raleigh built water system. I was bitten by a lot of bugs but the setting was incredibly beautiful: a concreted water source amongst hummingbirds, trees with dappled sunlight, trickling streams and rocky rivers.
From that day onwards, we dug for up to five hours each morning, working in collaboration with the locals. We split into small groups of 3 – 4 Raleigh volunteers plus 3 – 4 local volunteers, digging at different sites in order to lay down pipes to extend the water system.
Excluding Sunday, we dug everyday for the following 8 days. The trenches had to be a minimum of 50cm deep. Digging in the Nicaraguan sun can be really tough. I had small blisters beneath my fingers and I felt a constant, unquenchable thirst as I worked. Although the mornings were difficult, we worked together as a team. There was a strong group spirit and feeling fatigued after work was often cured by a long bucket shower and a hearty portion of rice and beans!
|Rice and beans really grew on me after the first week!|
|Visit from Pedro!|
The final days of Phase 1 flew by. We were delivered a lovely food package from the Co-operative consisting of fruit and veg. There was a full community house for the youth environment themed film night, and as a team we greatly anticipated ‘Changeover’. Changeover is a 2 – 3 day break away from the project site, at a Nicaraguan city. The time is normally spent reflecting on the project work, meeting up with the other volunteer groups and free-time to explore the town. Our first changeover was in Esteli in Northern Nicaragua.
- 2 – 3 day Changeover in Esteli (Myers Briggs and Action at Home presentation, x3 Charlie vs Charlie challenges: video-making, a team presentation and a dance-off.
- Finished water infrastructure work!
- Community House Action Day
- x1 Womens Meeting and x2 Environmental School Sessions
- Film night: screening of Arizona
- Eli and Yahoska (Raleigh staff members), visited our team.
|Ana my homestay sister and her ‘baby’ whilst we wait for another bus|
|Charlie 1 dance off winners! 🙂|
As Mark and I are sticking up posters advertising the community events, we hear a rumble and bump into Eli and Yahoska driving into the community. We spend the afternoon cooking together as a team, preparing a group banquet and laying out a long table for the 17 of us to eat together.
|Home-made mud candle holders!
(Made by Yamil + kids)
A month has now passed. We have all gelled together incredibly well and there is a powerful group calibre. We stand with our arms round each other. We make ‘massage chains’. We buy each other treats, make hair braids and organise film nights. Yes, there are food cravings and the infrastructure work is hard but it makes me appreciate the little treats even more. From a make-shift powdered oreo ‘milkshake’ with Mark to watching World War Z with the team, there is so much joy to be had from these little moments we have together as a team.
|Community Action day – 1st November|
Work-wise, we organised a Community Action Day. New, electrical lights were installed in the community centre and we repainted the entire inside of the building with the help of the local people. The walls turned from a washed-out, unpainted grey to a bright yellow with a dark green stripe running parallel to the floor.
|My host brother
with the new tap at
We finish off all the water piping and tap installations this week. There is just work at the water source to finish off the extension. Water access in the community has now increased from 28 to 45 houses and we installed a total of 2275 metres of additional piping.
- Community Sports Day with the youth.
- House to house Surveys for next project phase: Organic vegetable plots.
- Made first vegetable plot.
- Women’s Meeting and CAPS meeting (Water committee).
- Team Bonfire.
- A visit from Dan and other ICS staff from London.
- Trip to Achuapa.
We spend our Sunday afternoon on the newly cleared football field, playing football and volleyball with the local youths.
Our project video was on Vegetable plots and how to construct them, the video we made can be watched here:
|Chloe making use of the opportunity to shower
at a house where we finished a vegetable plot!
- The 3 Raleigh/ICS objectives are project impact, volunteer personal development and the creation of active global citizens. This is done through: 1) Action Research, 2) Peer to Peer Education, 3) Training, 4) Awareness Raising, 5) Infrastructure and 6) Resources.
- A summary of our activities from 1st October – 9th November: We completed all the water extension (Infrastructure), held a Community Action Day (Awareness Raising), re-painted and installed electricity in the community centre (Infrastructure), established a Women’s/Youth Group and planned meetings (Peer to Peer Education), held 5+ school sessions on health/hygiene/environmental topics (Peer to Peer Education), Completed 74 house to house surveys (Action Research), produced a water system map and a translated water manual for the CAPS committee (Resources), organised a vegetable plot and compost training with the local co-operative (Training) and showed videos and hosted information meetings with the CAPS committee (Training).
- Rest and relaxation activities included: a trek to a coffee plantation, swimming in the river, film nights, 2 group dinner nights, 2 town trips to Achuapa and a team bonfire.
- 8 Raleigh/ICS Staff members visited us: Eli, Yahoska, Pedro, Ross, Dan, Sarah, David and a photographer.
- x1 snake encounter and x1 scorpion encounter (both in the community house).
- x1 poisonous caterpillar in Yamil’s bed.
- x1 ‘adopted’ pet in Casa de Cinco – hero cat! (we named it hero cat after it ate a cockroach that was about to crawl into Naomi’s bed in the middle of the night).
- It’s £800 to fundraise for a 10 – 12 week placement, go to: http://www.volunteerics.org/ for more information and to apply for the scheme.
- To read part 2 of ICS blog go to: http://days-of-adventure.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/ics-raleigh-international-13x-charlie.html