finding joy in beaches and basura (trash!)

As a reward for studying hard and acing their end-of-semester tests in December, Maddie and I organized a trip to the beach for our respective intermediate and advanced English classes. This morning we filled up two large micro-vans with gringos and Nicas and started the hour-long trek down pothole ridden highways and bumpy dirt roads. The weather couldn't have been more perfect or the water more refreshing. Norman and Gabriel jammed out on the guitar. Dayana and Fabiola collected nearly a hundred sand dollars. The boys played sand soccer and the girls tossed the Frisbee around in the ocean. Emilio was buried in the sand and had his body shaped into a beautiful sirena (mermaid). Adriana, Gelme, Elena and Olga had a sand and water splashing fight. I learned that Mercedes' favorite song is "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and more about Olga's life as an aspiring attorney. All in all the day was wonderful and injury free, phew! Getting to know our neighboring Nica community via our English program has been a HUGE blessing thus far and I'm excited to deepen these friendships in the upcoming months.

Last week our Child Sponsorship team had a long overdue meeting with the La Chureca clinic staff and Ministry of Health officials to sort out some long standing questions and concerns. We thankfully made some headway and plans but continue to be frustrated by miscommunication that seems to plague our program. But wait, good news… we're graduating a number of children who have reached and maintained healthy weight, woohoo! Thus, we'll have ample room to enter more needy children in the upcoming months. I'm saddened to see a number of my favorite children and mothers go – familiar faces will be exchanged for new families and stories once again – but overjoyed that some of the children have grown and have some semblance of 'healthy bodies' amidst such a toxic environment.

Working in La Chureca has been by far the most challenging and shocking, yet joyful and rewarding, experience that I have had thus far in Nicaragua. It's one of those "you can't understand 'til you see it" kind of places, and even then you may not believe it exists. I feel compelled to overcome these insufficiencies and somehow share this incredible place with you. Here is a trailer for a short film being made about Día de Luz, a day long concert and celebration sponsored by 'Love, Light and Melody' in La Chureca. The film documents last year's event, which is when I was first exposed to La Chureca while on a spring break trip with the Nicaraguan Orphan Fund. Please check out the video and other pictures on this website to get a fuller picture of this place I have grown to know and love.

Peace, Christina