Where I’ll be in Nicaragua for My #WaterAidNica Trip

As I prepare for my insight trip with WaterAid America to Nicaragua representing Mom Bloggers for Social Good next week, I thought I would share some more information about where exactly I will be going in this Central American country. While I will be flying into the capital city of Managua on Sunday on the western side of the country, our home base for the duration of the trip will be in Bilwi, also known as Puerto Cabezas, on the Caribbean side.


Nicaragua is a small country, with a population of approximately 5.8 million people and a land area smaller than the state of New York, though it is the biggest of Central America’s five countries. It is situated north of Costa Rica and south of Honduras. As a whole, Nicaragua is considered one of the poorest countries in the Latin America Caribbean Region. It has a pretty turbulent history marked with political violence and several natural disasters over the years. At the same time, it is a beautiful country filled with tropical beaches, volcanoes, lush forest and thick jungle bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the wet and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

I will be traveling with freelance journalist Caitlin Kelly, photographer Rodrigo Cruz, and WaterAid America’s media and communications officer, Alanna Imbach. For most of the week, our travels will take us outside of Bilwi, over terrible roads and into the indigenous communities of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN). While the official language of Nicaragua is Spanish, the predominant language spoken where WaterAid works in RAAN is Miskitu. There are several other indigenous languages spoken in Nicaragua as well. I am excited to have the opportunity to stay in one of these rural communities for one night in order to experience a full day and evening in this remote area. We will have translators to help us communicate.

From the sound of it, Nicaragua is fairly ethnically diverse. There are about 150,000 Miskitu people in the country. These are the people we will be meeting. What is staggering is that is 80% of this isolated northern Caribbean area has no access to clean water or toilets. Alanna recently wrote a post for the Girls’ Globe blog that talks about the women she can’t wait to meetAlanna explained how WaterAid’s work in Nicaragua helps empower women. From the post:

Take, for example, a group of women in Auhya Pihni. Not only did they learn how to install and maintain simple water pumps, drill borehole wells and install eco-toilets through WaterAid’s skills training program, but they’ve turned their newly honed skills right around, using them to train and subcontract their spouses and siblings to help them carry out maintenance and installation work, too. In the blink of an eye, they have become mentors for their daughters and leaders in their communities, taking up roles that have traditionally been reserved only for men. It’s a business model my mother would love.

As I mentioned in my announcement post, we will be concentrating on community empowerment (especially women), job skills training for at risk youth, and some of the realities of living in this area of Nicaragua. I’ve had the opportunity to read some of WaterAid’s reports on some of the projects they’ve completed in Nicaragua. I am looking forward to seeing the difference between the communities WaterAid has worked with for some time and those they are just starting to work with.

It’s now starting to sink in that I will be leaving for this amazing trip in less than one week. And it feels a bit weird to pack warm weather clothes as I also brace myself for yet another snow storm here in Maine.

On Friday, I will write about how you can be involved with our World Water Day celebration on March 21st.

Here are some ways you can follow the trip:

Read more about WaterAid’s program in Nicaragua

Have you been to Central America? What was your experience like?

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  1. says

    How exciting, Jennifer! I wish I had the funds that would allow me to make trips like that, because they are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’d love to be a part of something much bigger than myself.

    You are such a special person, and I hope you have safe travels. I can’t wait to read about your experience.

  2. says

    I’m so energized by the women’s empowerment piece of this, as I truly believe that a community in which women are empowered is a better community for everyone. I love hearing about the ripple effect that giving women basic skills and resources has on their spouses, siblings, children, families, and communities.
    Katie @ Pick Any Two recently posted..Does Your Doctor Make You Feel Guilty?My Profile

  3. says

    Oh Gosh Jen… this is going to be such an experience for you. WOW! I am anxious to see all your pictures and documentary on this culture and how this amazing mission is changing lives over there…

    I am praying for your safety and endurance in this journey, my friend.
    Chris Carter recently posted..Dare I Dream about Prom Dresses?My Profile

  4. says

    Jennifer, I have lived in Nicaragua on and off for 11 years. The past four years, we’ve lived on Ometepe Island permanently. My husband and I are retired teachers. We are culturally immersed in a small community, which is perfect for us. Last week, we flew to the Caribbean side of Nicaragua…our first trip. I kept saying, “This can’t be Nicaragua.” They spoke a mixture of Creole, Spanish, and English. In the Corn Islands, they started recycling centers. There was little trash ( so unlike the rest of Nicaragua). In fact, we joke that the national flowers of Nicaragua are the pink and green plastic bags. I’m going to check out the WaterAid site. I am so excited for you. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the resilience and vivaciousness of the Nicaraguan people. Although Nicaragua is diverse and beautiful, the people sold us on living here. Enjoy your experience.
    Gypsytoes recently posted..Part One: The Culture of Reading in Nicaragua, or NotMy Profile

    • says

      The work WaterAid is doing in Nicaragua sounds amazing. I can’t wait to see it in person and to hear how women, in particular, are being empowered by the training they are providing. Stay tuned!

  5. says

    This is really important, required work and how great that Moms, who by most cultural norms, are put out to graze by now, are doing this amazing empowerment and skills teaching work. I really admire you and your organization. Wonderful experience to be writing about. The photos will be enthralling and can’t wait to see them. All the very best.


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