As a word of advice to incoming environment volunteers (or even future Michelle), never make four gardens in the same week. Your body will thank you physically and mentally. I can at least say now that I am a boss at making school gardens! And doing them together with my students made it easier to get through that intense week. Going home that weekend, I felt defeated in every possible manner. Until I went back to work and found one of my students holding a small tree in his hands. He is one of my favorite students from the ecological brigade; despite living in one of the orphanages of my community, h has never used his circumstance as an excuse to be a bad student. In fact, he is a marvelous student, excelling in every subject, being s role model for the class, a natural born leader, and an environmentalist at heart. He has definitely won a special place in my life. So back to the tree, he goes on to explain to me how he had so much fun making a school nursery, that he felt the orphanage needed one too, and began to grow his own. Not only that, after the school garden practicum, he began to grow his own fruits and vegetables at the orphanage as well, and since May I have been providing him with seeds and guidance as too how to properly grow and care for each plant. Paco* (as I will be calling him), is one of many students that give me the strength to get up in the morning when my body hurts too much to get out of bed. It moments like this that let me know that the future of Nicaragua's environment is in good hands, when there are people like Paco*
This time, my trip to the coast came with a purpose. I went to help a fellow PCV and an international NGO work on a basketball court at one of her schools. I thought it was going to be easy, hard work but nothing like what we experienced! Everyday brought on a new twist, from crazy rain, to dengue, to mystery bacterial infections! We got it ALL! Despite that, working with that wonderful NGO for a week was exactly what I needed as I am nearing my one year mark. Seeing the young and excited faces of all the volunteers, helped rejuvenate in me my love for international development. Courts for Kids is an NGO that is doing is RIGHT! Their mission and projects are on the money when it comes to bringing both a much needed service to an international community, but also works hard on community integration among all participants. They wanted to be right there in the middle of it all. No fancy hotels or meals for them. We slept on hard wet mattresses and they couldn't have it any other way! It was tough work; we didn't spend a single day dry and free of dirt or cement. We took cold bucket baths in the school restroom every night, and were back at it the next morning. Getting to help on this project along with other fellow PCVs has definitely been one of the highlights of my entire service so far!