My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for El Porvenir, Westminster, CO, USA
Return to Camoapa
In November 2003 we flew from Miami to Managua, Nicaragua for a repeat of our work trip with El Porvenir. When we signed up we didn’t know if the team would be going to Camoapa. A few days before we left, it was confirmed. We were looking forward to seeing the locals we had met and worked with on the first trip.
This year our ten Elderhostel volunteers were again building latrines, but the families in this project area (called Matambo) were more widely dispersed. Often we had to walk a quarter mile to reach our worksite from where we parked the truck. The local families had dug the pits, which had to be at least 3 meters (10 ft) deep. We were lining the pits with cement blocks. Last year the latrines were lined with quarry stone, which came in 100 lb blocks. Where the pits encountered bedrock, the lining would start at the rock. Most of the actual masonry was done by one of the local foremen. We would help by moving materials, mixing mortar, and cutting blocks. The brickwork was extended about 12-15 inches above the ground. Then we would put in place a pre-cast floor and cement toilet box. After a day we would build an enclosure of wood and tin. The wood varied from rough sawn 2x2s to crudely formed sticks hacked out by machete. It was amazing to see everything fit together with a properly fitting door. Most workdays we had lunch at a farm owned by the mayor of Camoapa consisting of red beans, rice, cooked vegetables, and stewed tomatoes with onion. Other meals were at the same places as last year: breakfast at Hotel Las Estrellas, dinner at Rosamelia’s or El Bosquecito.
We had an opportunity to visit the project sites we had worked on in 2002 and were especially impressed with Salida Las Pencas. The footbridge over the creek had been replaced with a wide bridge and city water had been piped into a water station near the center of the string of houses. Most of the houses had been upgraded; the black plastic had been replaced with durable walls. Jorge had added a large living area to his house. We also met with Bismarck and his family. Many of the people in the neighborhood recognized us and greeted us warm-ly. We also talked with Donna Eva at the lavanderia site in Guayabita. I also met the aged Jose Lavila who lived along the ridge above the hotel, and Edward, a dairy farmer who had lived in Chicago.
We visited community agencies such as a child care center and the medical clinic, and met with the female mayor. When we left Camoapa, we again spent a few days visiting Granada, Volcán Mombacho, and Masaya.
We almost didn’t get to leave, however, because a section of a critical bridge had broken and was barely passible.
One of the successes of the trip was to clear up the mystery about the name of the wood I bought in Granada and carried home in 2002. Melvin, one of our coordinators, had done his college studies on native plants and trees in Central America, and he quickly identified the wood as “genízaro.” It appears to be related to acacia. I have started carving it into a Nicaraguan village scene. The grain is quite twisted and varied in hardness, so it is quite challenging.
Phyllis and I returned to Miami where we had left our RV, our two dogs and three cats, and started our long drive back to California.