Catarina Sales from Vitamin Angels, accompanied Univera Associates for this year’s Serve First’s trip to Nicaragua. Read more about her experiences below.
1) How did you feel when you landed in Nicaragua?
I felt nervous, excited and definitely hot. I love visiting new places and discovering local culture, so I was looking forward to my time spent in Nicaragua.
2) What was your favorite moment you had with a child/mom in the areas you visited?
My favorite was our very first site visit. Seeing all the children lined up to greet us, and clapping when we approached. I got really shy around them. I didn’t know where to put myself or how to talk to them. I was a little bit bolder later when I started speaking with a few of the mothers who were volunteering there. Even though my Spanish was spotty, we became fast friends. I enjoyed their company and their humor. We had some good laughs watching the kids play soccer together.
3) What differences did you see in the children who had received vitamins?
The children had more energy and better appetites. One of the mothers told us that her child didn’t have rashes on his skin anymore since taking vitamins.
4) What surprised you the most in the villages?
I was surprised how close the community was. They were small, but the people who were there helped and supported one another. A lot of the families we visited had parents/aunts & uncles/siblings living next to them.
5) Anything else you would like people to know about your experience.
It was amazing to see the perseverance and the motivation each parent had in order to give a better life for their children; the importance of education and good nutrition/health was on top of their list.
The juxtaposition of beautiful scenery and garbage lying everywhere was pretty jarring. The issue of steady work and running water not being available to the communities we visited, contrasted with some of the luxurious houses we saw on the road going to and from different sites, was shocking as well. They have so much and so little at the same time.
It was an unforgettable trip. I loved the people I met, and the work that is being done. I’m hoping someday I may be able to reconnect with the people we met in those communities, and to see how much progress has been done through the various programs.