Thursday, March 3, 2011

Service Above Self

Hello all! Gautam here,
We have just returned from the country on a life changing voyage. To start, I would like you all to think of what the countryside in the United States is like. Most of you would immediately think of vast rich farmland, large fields to herd cattle, a stable for all the animals, and quaint red barns spaced miles apart from each other- in Nicaragua the country is drastically different.

Upon arrival, we were treated with a dry barren wasteland that resembled a desert more than countryside. We took one look at our new home for the next three nights and many were unsure if they could survive. Our "bedrooms" consisted of two classrooms in an abandoned school house with metal bars missing and no lights. To say the latrine was horrid would be an understatement. We had to watch out for Cockroaches and scorpions at night when using the latrine as well as any hens that were too stubborn to leave. The farm animals were allowed to roam freely through the Nicaraguan country, walking into any yard they please to eat and leave ¨presents ¨ on the ground for us to find. We worked all day on assembling the PVC pipes and we were able to finish all of it by the end, which came as a surprise to all of the Aqua Clara staff. The night was really tough on everybody. We were not used to the Nicaraguan country life. We slept on the hard concrete floor and were repeatedly awoken by rooster calls and barking dogs. At this point, almost all of us were skeptical about staying for another night.

The second day in the country was the day we were all changed. In the morning, we were all groggy from lack of sleep and were reluctant to get to work. We eventually made it out to install the filters, and I think I can speak on behalf of the entire group that our attitude drastically changed, Seeing the joy of the families that we were helping by building filters overcame the hardships we faced that previous night. By the end of the night, people were happy and starting to suck it up and really experience the Nicaraguan country life.

The final night was the easiest, though many were badly sunburned. We were able to completely adapt to the lifestyle whereas a few days before there was talk of leaving after the second night. Seeing the families in need of clean water, and seeing how they were living in conditions that Americans would consider primitive. By the end of the day, we were taken by the beauty of the country and we could understand why people would never want to leave it.

With our experience portrayed, you can see what a shock it was for us to come back to a place with running water, clean bathrooms, scarce livestock and beds. So we are all back at the CEPAD guesthouse where we will spend the remainder of our nights in Managua. From all the Rotaract members, we are safe, we miss all of you, and we hope to see you soon.

Abrazos y besos,
Gautam Korakavi

Beans, Rice and Wildcard.

Hola amigos,

Just returned from the el Campo experience. Spending four days in the village was one of the most transformative and perspective-shattering experiences I have ever participated in. The warmth and pósitive energy of the Nicaraguans when installing their filters was intoxicatingly rewarding.

Overall the village conditions were atrocious in relation to Western standards. The cockroaches that raged in the latrine were swarming. The oppresive, raw heat of the climate soaked my clothes in sweatylike slime. Around the abandoned schoolhouse (where we were staying) was littered with fecal debris and farm animals roamed aimlessly all around us. As far as the food.... we ate varying colors of beans and rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner with some accompánying veggies and the occasional Coke (which btw became an instant delicacy). Needless to say, we were roughing it (like 100 grit but infinitely worse).


None of us would trade the experience for anything else, not an excursion to a tropical island or a 5-star resort beach paradise. Through all the difficulties of transitioning into seemingly another world, one with a completely different perspective on life, our growth focused around truly amazing international service. Building and installing 82 water filters in the poorest municipality in Nicaragua and seeing the impact on the families of being afforded clean water was incredible. Honestly, we cant think of another way to spend out Spring Break.

Anyways, see you guys stateside. Dont worry everyone is feeling great and completely absorbed in the experience.

Louis and Suz.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


I hope these post help to relax the nerves of our very anxious parents.. I know you all are very worried about us, but we are all doing GREAT! The trip has already been pretty life changing for a small town girl like myself. While walking through town yesterday, I finally understood the song, "Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world..." It is absolutely extraordninary how the world around us functions and we take SOO much for granted.

I have finished up the art-kits to hand out to the little kids in a few days, and during the process of putting them together another member staying at CEPAD suggested taking my idea to a local sewing co-op and sharing my idea to give them something to make and market! How crazy would that be to pair up with something like this and actually get their products sold in the United States!?! I think it is a great idea, so if my schedule allows it I will be traveling 45 minutes out to a sewing co-op and talk to them about my idea. Hopefully everything goes as plan, but everything does happens for a reason so I am not too concerned.

Hope all is well for everyone and we will continue to blog!

Love and miss you family!
xoxoxo, Kayla

Hello Nicaragua!

Hello everyone! We arrived in Nicaragua yesterday, and as soon as we got off the plane we could feel the change in weather. Some said it was a dry heat, but I felt the humidity. Going through immigration and customs was a breeze. They are much more relaxed here than they are in the U.S. with that sort of thing. Once we grabbed our bags and finished the basics we found our CEPAD guide Doug, who led us outside and told us that he would come grab our bags and direct us to what van to get into. After waiting a few minutes in the "dry" heat we were in the van and on our way!
Driving to CEPAD was a culture shock, at least for me. As we were driving down a highway with heavy traffic there were people walking down the lanes of the road. Many of them were carrying bags on their heads, and there were also a lot of children. Everytime the traffic would start moving again I would get nervous because there were people walking in the street! I guess that after awhile avoiding cars becomes a skill. When we were driving the main road was paved, but if you looked down side streets they turned to dirt and were lined with small homes that were made out of scraps of wood. As we kept driving we saw that there were a lot of roads blocked off and people were walking in huge groups down the streets. We asked Doug what was going on and he said that Nicaragua is coming into an election year and that there was a political event. This must have been a big event, because there were bus loads of people making there way. The busses here are so neat! Many of them are painted, but others are just regular school busses. Doug told us that all the bus systems are made up of old school busses because public transportation is not monitored by the government. (No need to worry we are not taking any busses haha.)
We turned down a dirt road and made our way to the CEPAD house. We got here and drove in and it was exactly like the pictures I had seen. It is outdoors similar to an outdoor theatre we might see. It is half covered with a roof, but most of it is outdoors. I am so glad that it is not indoors because I would just be too hot! After eating some lunch we got to rest. It was nice to just hear about CEPAD and be giving the chance to relax after travel. We played some games until dinner, which was also very good. I had a chicken lasagna, which had a sweeter taste to it with corn and black beans.
Around eight thirty at night Doug took us on a walk up the road where we were able to try some local foods at a rooftop bar. The walk there was very interesting. The cars absolutely do not have to stop for people crossing the street. Therefore we ran, but it was good because they have large breaks in traffic. I loved the food that we tried! There was one thing, I have no idea how to spell it, but it was a local vegetable made into a mini pancake with cheese on top. Then there is a salso to dunk it in. I really enjoyed it, and wish I could find it in the States when we get back. After we walked back and everyone fell asleep very quickly because it was a long day. It really was a great day!
This morning we woke up and they had a great breakfast laid out. Fresh fruit, including banana and pineapple, eggs, toast, with rice and beans. I think the pineapple I ate today might have been the best I have ever had! It was a white pineapple, not nearly as yellow as ours.
Today we are going to learn more about CEPAD and then we will go on a group tour to see the city before we come back for dinner. I am very excited to learn more!

Basically...this place is great and we are having an amazing time!

Hasta luego,

Laura Partamian
(Hi mom and dad love you!!)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Today's the Day!

After months of planning and coordinating we are finally at the threshold; our breaths held anxiously for the final plunge into international service. The main purpose of this blog is to invite friends, families and really anyone interested to follow our experiences during the trip. We hope to offer you a glimpse into our work constructing and installing bio-sand filters for impoverished communities and the beautiful Nicaraguan culture and landscape. We'll aim to post as frequently as we can. Additionally, we'll try to upload pictures and videos too. Each trip participant will also be expected to write at least one post so we can host a variety of different perspectives/attitudes and produce a more comprehensive processing of the entire experience, individually and collectively. Enjoy!

Tonight (well technically Saturday) morning, at 2:30am we depart from the Cube to Detroit Airport. Flying with American Airlines, our flight is scheduled to depart at 6:30am. We as college students are notorious for a "certain loose perception of promptness" so this will give us ample time to amble our way over. Anyways we fly to Miami for a 1.5 hour layover, then depart for Managua at 11:00 (about a two hour flight). Here's the flight itinerary:

American Airlines #873
American Airlines #969
Detroit 6:30am
Miami 11:00am
Miami 930am
Managua 12:45pm on 2/26/2011

American Airlines #970
American Airlines #390
Managua 1:55pm
Miami 7:35pm
Miami 5:25pm
Detroit 10:40pm on 3/5/2011

Overall enthusiasm is at a fever pitch and our bags are packed (or in the process). Vaccinations have been completed, packing lists consulted, financing secured and ad hoc spanish hyperlearning instruction commencing! Midterms have cut a merciless swathe through our sanity, so it will also be nice to escape the University academic culture for awhile. Anyways we'll post again when we can.

Rotaract Out!