Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Day 1, Morning Day 2
Day 1, Morning Day 2
by: Keaghan Anen
So yesterday (What I am calling Day 1, travel day was Day 0 for me) we had four main activities. First, we were taken to a small market in Managua. We were broken up into groups of four, given 40 Cordobas (about $2 U.S. and the average income per family per day) and told to buy food for a family of six for the whole day. My group bought 2 lbs of rice, 1 lb of beans, 1 lb of potatoes, and a few tomatoes (which was cooked for lunch today and I am currently eating). We realized that this was defintely not enough to feed a family by U.S. standards, but some of us thought that with enough time we may have been able to haggle and shop for better prices and make it work. This is when one of the international team members, Galen, suggested that, having spent all of our income on food, we no longer had money for things like toilet paper, utilities bills, emergencies, transportation, or medical care. This was a shocking realization to us all, and was followed by another very interesting experience.
After our trip to the market, we went to the mall here in Managua. What I never expected, a real modern style mall, was exactly what we found. There was a Burger King, Sbarro, movie theater, and even a Mercedes being raffled off at the entrance (which another of our international team members, Geno, was hoping to win.) Mark and I were especially shocked at this, and to be honest, at the time we were a bit let down. We had expected to be thrown right into the middle of all the issues and see it all right away, my imagined Managua was nothing like it really is (Though parts of it turned out worse).
After lunch we then had a little history lesson about Nicaragua and then we had a guest speaker discuss the cultural issues that were affecting those on the east coast of Nicaragua, such as race and government representation inequality. While interesting, I felt bad that a bad nights sleep (and early morning yoga) had left me drowsy and almost falling asleep.
This morning (after another yoga session with Jhon), we had a discussion of the economic history and problems of Nicaragua, then we took a trip out to visit a woman named Maria Ivania, who runs a health and education clinic out of her home. This was our first real experience with the lifestyle of most Nicaraguans. There was no running water, the homes were sort of slapped together and created and maintained as the people could afford them, which did not afford them many luxuries. I won't get into the specifics too much because I'm sure others will be discussing it later, but her story fascinated and inspires all of us, especially when she shared her own experiences as a young mother.
This morning was very difficult for all of us, but one thing I am trying to do is to not let it depress me, but instead I am trying to be constantly inspired and motivated to create change. One thing I cannot seem to shake though is a feeling of guilt. Call it luck, fate, God's will or whatever that I was born in a place that I could have the things I have, but I cannot help feel bad that 30 minutes ago we were confronted by a man ashamed to ask us for money to buy food for his family (who had not eaten yet today. I feel especially guilty because of this, because in-between sentences I have been eating from a full plate of food, one of three that I will have today. It is just hard to get past the fact that I eat in one meal what an entire family might eat in a day (or even two).