1) How did you feel when you landed in Nicaragua?
I felt anxious and uncomfortable at first. I have never been to a country where poverty is so wide spread and where resources are so scarce. Fortunately we had excellent support with Ralph and Tana, and our friends from Vitamin Angles and FEED the CHiLDREN.
My biggest concern was that we would ‘intrude’ into the families’ world but when I learned how excited the children were to meet us, I enjoyed every minute we had with them. We saw many children in many different settings and I was surprised how well behaved, respectful, patient, appreciative and content they were. They happily played nicely with each other without teacher or parent having to correct them. Their uniforms were clean and pressed; many girls wore adorable dresses. It was obvious how much the parents loved and cared about their children. Not once did I hear a child cry or argue.
2) What was your favorite moment you had with a child/mom in the areas you visited?
Our first home visit was the most touching to me. Jacqueline Ramos, a single mother of 3 children, was nomadic for 18 years! She finally settled close to the school where FEED the CHiLDREN implemented their program not too long ago. Now her children receive Vitamin Angles’ vitamins, 1 meal a day, a pair of shoes every 6 months and have access English and computer classes at the Feeding Center in addition to their regular school work. This is much more than Jacqueline and her children ever had before. Jacqueline has heart problems, asthma, and much much more. Her daughter’s eyes were impacted by parasites causing permanent but correctable loss of vision but the mother does not have the money to get her proper medical attention. Her youngest son, Nathaniel, 19 months old, is draped over her shoulder during our visit. He is breathing heavy, is very sluggish, and obviously not feeling well. She attended to him the best she could. There is no running water on the property, no furniture in her ‘home’. The family sleeps on the dirt floor that must be soaking wet as soon as the raining season starts. Despite of the circumstances, her oldest son, Roberto, is enjoying High School and even understands some English. Even though Jacqueline is living in the worst condition I have ever seen, she is welcoming and appreciative. She told us that despite all the health challenges her children still have, they are healthier than ever since they have been receiving vitamins and food on a regular basis. When we said good-bye she and I had tears in our eyes…what an incredibly strong woman!! I can not imagine walking in her shoes even just for a short period of time! Meeting Jacqueline made it even more obvious to me how important every dollar is that we can donate to Serve First since our contributions truly change lives!
3) What differences did you see in the children who had received vitamins?
Across the board, all the moms told us how much healthier their children are since they have started the program. It was also nice to see how eager the children are to take their vitamins since they understand that “they will keep them healthy.”
4) What surprised you the most in the villages?
It was like going back in time 100 years with men using oxen to plow the fields, ride horses for transportation…..I had no idea that families have to go without water for such long periods of time. I was pleasantly surprised how many people have family living close by and how supportive they are of each other.
5) Anything else you would like people to know about your experience?
I would like people to know that we are making a true difference in people’s lives by donating even the smallest amount of money. It is important for people to know that Mr. Lee matches our donations up to $100 000 every year and that Vitamin Angles does a fantastic job selecting Field Partners in different countries to supply the vitamins and provide support. We were particularly impressed with the organization FEED the CHiLDREN that provides a 6 year plan when working with a community. The first 3 years all about support and education and the last 3 years are about teaching people to become self sufficient while making sure not to starve people on the road to independence.
Thank you again to everyone who made this trip possible…it will be eternally edged into our minds:))