Nicaragua is a small country in Latin America just North of Costa Rica. It is the second-poorest country in the region, just behind Haiti. Those living in rural parts of Nicaragua average about 2.1 years of school, and
68 percent of Nicaraguans in rural areas live on less than $1 per day.
This is all I knew about the incredible country that is Nicaragua before having the opportunity to travel there with the IU Panhellenic Association’s Circle of Sisterhood.
Last winter, the Panhellenic Association at IU agreed to sponsor a school build in a developing country in order to bring education to parts of the world that would not otherwise receive it. The PHA community raised $40,000 in subsequent semesters, then interviewed and selected 11 women to participate in the on-site school build in rural Nicaragua.
We spent our days working to build a school alongside men, women, and even some children in the community. The older men taught us to use big tools (I was especially fond of the pick-axe). When we weren’t building the school, we made tortillas over a fire and danced (for hours) with local teenagers.
I experienced an overwhelming shift in perspective. When asked the question “what would you do with a million dollars?” the women in the community, young and old, could not find an answer, because they could not fathom a life devoid of hard work and sacrifice.
Circle of Sisterhood has taught me that removing barriers to education is the surest way to help lift people out of poverty. I am honored to say that I was a part of a trip that helped bring education to women for generations to come even in just one small corner of the world, and if I could speak to those women now, this is what I’d say:
From the farthest corners of my heart, thank you. You have shown me what it means to give yourselves to your family and your community more wholly than I ever thought possible.
You have taught me to use my body for work and for purpose and not for glamour or image.
You have given me the richest memories and most authentic experiences of my life in just a few short days.
You have shown me the value of the life I live and the responsibility I have to it.
More than anything else, you’ve given me a purpose and a home on the other side of the world. For that (and countless other reasons) I will be forever grateful to you, Nicaragua.