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 meet. Alanna 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:
- Follow my blog and Simple Giving Lab site
- Follow my YouTube channel
- Follow the hashtag: #WaterAidNica on Twitter
- Follow @WaterAidAmerica and @AnotherJenB on Twitter
- Follow my #WaterAidNica Pinterest Board
- Follow the Social Good Moms Nicaragua Tumblog