Things I have no choice but to write

Category: amigos

Help me get a generator for the Amigos Academy in Nicaragua

 The Amigos Academy Need a Generator

(Post Summary: I’m raising $1000 for a generator for a school in Nicaragua. Donate here)
Friends, as you know, I have been working with a great NGO in Nicaragua, Amigos for Christ, for over 10 years. I have written about various trips over the last few years. Since I have started working with them, we’ve build clear water systems, run labs in the communities to help families get free from parasitic infection, and we have also built a school, the Amigos Academy.

You Really Should See The School

Its amazing. I remember the school when it was a rice field. Then the next year we built a wall around the property, as is customary in Nicaragua. The next year we build the pre-school area. The year after that we participated in the building of the primary class buildings. Since then the feeding center/cafeteria has been completed. They are now running a K-6 school with around 200 kids. See some pictures of the school here.

They Have Computers!

They even have a computer room where they teach the kids the basics of using computers for writing. They are also considering robotics projects as well, which is super exciting.

They Need a Generator

The school is roughly here.  As you can imagine, the power infrastructure in rural Nicaragua is not always stable. And when the school has a power outage, its is really disruptive to the students’ education. So the principals of the school have told me they could use generator to help them through the power outages for the computer room and related infrastructure. They are looking for a generator roughly like this

I’m raising $1000 for a Generator For the School

To do this, I would like to raise $1000 so the Amigos Academy can purchase a generator for the school. If you are interested, please go here, and give whatever you can. No amount is too small. Or you can use the obvious giant button below. Their EIN is 58-2484257 if you are giving via a system like BrightFunds. You can give by other means, described here, but please mention in the notes that this is for “Amigos Academy Generator”.
For more info on Amigos For Christ, check out their work here.

Nicaraguan Medical Team Needs Help. Give Today

   As you know, I work with an NGO down in Nicaragua on clean water projects, including building water systems, and working on healing the after-affects of years of bad water. The Medical team again needs your support to raise money to buy new equipment for the Anti-Parasite project I have written about in the past. (Watch Juanita’s video in order to see the progress we’re making).

Specifically, this time, we need a centrifuge, and items for a mobile clinic. You’ll see their pictures below.

Can you help us raise $2000 to help contain the project? DONATE HERE.

(For more information on Amigos, and they work that do in their community, scroll to the end.)
The vortex:
Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 4.25.12 PM.png
Portable AC unit:
Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 4.26.06 PM.png
The tent: 
Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 4.26.55 PM.png


Below is a snapshot of their work. For a complete set of results, see:

Help Eliminate Diseases Caused by Bad Water: Can You Give?

Dear Friends/Family,
   As you know, I have been working with a great group in Nicaragua, Amigos for Christ. You can read my report from last year, with a video from the team, and their testing results. They focus on clean water, health and education programs for the folks in one of the poorest regions of the 2nd poorest country in the Americas.
One of the their core programs is the elimination of diseases caused by unclean water. In areas in where we have yet to put in a clean water system, up to 50% of the children have intestinal parasites. 
So, here’s this year’s ask
We need to raise money to keep the anti-parasite program going. Can you help us with our attempt to raise $4864? Here’s a breakdown:
Transportation and Materials for Preventative Classes and Home Visits in Rural Communities $1,450
Collection and Processing Materials for Parasite Testing
Additional Materials for studies
I have donated $500, and got my employer, VMware to donate another $1000. But a donation of any size is welcome. Can you help?

The donation link is here:

Thank you for your consideration. Call me if you have questions.
Bill Roth

Making a difference in Nicaragua

Earlier in the summer of 2016, I send out a call to my frends and family to help me raise money for medicine for the people of northwest Nicaragua. As many of you know, I have been working with a great organization, Amigos for Christ, to help the folks of this area.

Amigos has a systematic approach to helping folks. The have have five foundational areas they work on. Simply put: First, they start by working with communities to build water systems. This work is not charity, but a collaboration. The community must put up half the labor, and some of the money. Once the water system is in, they work on health issues. From there, it progresses to economic development. They have been working on this for 20 years, and the area is dotted with free-standing independent communities.

I have been working with the Health Team for a couple of years. I have been working on eliminating intestinal parasites in children and their parents, a disease which affects way to many people in this area. This year, the group had a special meal for me to celebrate the work we had done, and I was supremely moved.

So, to the donors, I say thank you. But more importantly, so do they. Here’s a message from my friend Juanita, a nurse on the team:

My name is Juanita Patricia González Picado, and I work with Amigos for Christ. I am in charge of the projects for eliminating parasites, and the elimination of Chronic Renal Insufficiency in the communities we work in.  This year, we worked with seven communities, 4 existing and 3 new communities. Thank you for your contributions and donations, which help us realize these projects and serve the people in these communities with stool and urine testing, which helps us in our mission to eliminate parasites and disease. We keep you in our thoughts always.

(Note: The translation is mine. I take responsibility for any mistakes)

The team also put together a slide presentation on the epidemiological data they have been collecting in the communities, which illustrates the level of service and professionalism that these folks provide:

(If you want a translation, post a comment)

I am proud to be able to help them, and I am proud that my family and friends who donated help to make the lives of these people better.

Notes on the 2016 Nicaragua Trip

The Saturday trip was about the same as past years. We had a red-eye flight from SFO to San Salvador, and I got to sit with my daughter, Anna, which was a plus. 
When we arrived at Managua, some old friends from Amigos For Christ where there to meet us. We then drove to Poneloya where all 40 of us had lunch at a friends house on the beach. From there, we drive another hour to the compound where the the dormitories are.
Saunday was the climb up the volcano, and I have covered this in years’ past. LINK. This year, however, I had both my daughters climbing with me. Both Emma and Anna went up the face of Cerro Negro. PIC  Anna made it in good time, and while it was difficult, she handled it with her usual steely resolve. I am so prod of her. She got sick later in the evening, but was better by morning. I think it was the food, rather than heat exhaustion.
Today we had a chance to go back to a community we’ve been working on for some time, the beautiful La Chuscada. Last year, we started putting in the boundary wall of a school. This year the wall is complete, as is most of the preschool. Our group was putting in the floor of the preschool, as well has putting in more of the plumbing for future buildings. They day was not a warm as it usually is, it was probably only 90 degrees, which passes for “cool” in Nicaragua.
The most beatific moment of the day had to do with music. Music is playing from load speakers and a generator while we’re working. Seemingly spontaneously, the kids with us started doing a line dance. Emma was with some of the small kids from the village, like 8-9 years old, and was trying to teach them the dance, which varying degrees of success, but it was a joy to see. I am so proud of her. Most everyone was tired and went to bed after “devo” (devotional) in the evening.
Anna, even though she was sick the previous night, was hard at work in the fields. She took it easy, but still was in the trenches digging.

Monday evening the adults walked down the street to El Torito, the local bar/restaurant. A taable of locals weked what we were doing, I told them about our work on clean wather projects and our love of the country. WHen they heard this, they bought the table a bottle of 12 year Nicaraguan Rum, which costs about $50 here at a bar. It was a very generous gift indeed. We found out later that our benefactor owned one of the grocery stores in Chinandega, and was , by Nicaraguan standards, someone of unimaginable wealth.
Today was a good day. We got to work build a pig pen in La Chuscada. We were at the house of Dona Rosa and she had a bunch of children there. 2 Babies, Christopher and Alejandro, a little girl Milady, and older girls Petrona, X, and Y. (See VIdeo)
I got a chance to work with the Veterinarian, Carlos and his wife Annie the head nurse. The Pay It Forward program (LINK) has found that if you build pens for the recipients, you are more likely to be successful with the animals, and keep them from getting sick or hurt. We were part of the initial projects building pens, and the project was definitely no as strenuous as digging trenches.
During the day I played with the Baby, Christopher, and it did not start out well, as he had a lot of stranger anxiety. But I got him to warm up to be by the end of the day.
We also helped with the pen at a house nearby, and afterwards were treated to Bunuelos, which is Fried Yucca which honey. Its excellent.
One of the sad things is that they do not have fresh water, since they could not afford the buy-in. So they still get their water from a well which is likely polluted. That nothwithstanding, the pigs from the pay it forward program will increase the protein and iron in their diet, which will ultimately make a big improvement in their lives.
Old folks home in the morning, Teresa, when asked how old, she said 50. 
Evening was a bit of drama, but we ended up having a party at Shannon’s house, which was excellent. We talked US politics, and because of the the guys on the trip was in finance, we talked about technology.
Today was a work day. We spent the day making cement and pouring a foundation for the new pre-school. The work was fun, and we set up a system where we functioned like a team, and in fact finished a hour or so early, and got the foundation poured. I am deadly tired now, but happy.
Friday, Saturday

(No notes. Traveling)

Notes on the 2015 Nicaragua Trip

Notes on the 2015 Nicaragua Trip

Weekend, July 11-12, 2015
The flight from SFO on Avianca was smooth. We landed in San Salvador, which is a larger airport than I imagined. I was deeply moved by the mural on the wall to the Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero. For my friends not steeped in the Roman Catholic church, he was Archbishop of El Salvador, and was an outspoken opponent of the extra-judicial killings, and was himself assassinated by a right-wing death squad, while saying Mass.
The flight to Managua was 38 minutes, and uneventful.  This is my 5th trip to Nicaragua with this group, and I remember being hit by a wall of heat when we left the airport. The heat and the humidity are powerful here. This time, however, i almost didn’t notice it. 
We then traveled for 2 hours by bus to a beach-side community called Poneloya, where we had lunch by the beach. A family from our group, native Nicaraguans, hosted us at their house.
Sunday as usual, was a hike up the newest volcano in the Americas, Cerro Negro. The hike is more than just an athletic exercise.  It is a hike up a 700 Meter pile of black sand, and its very challenging. The important part of this trip is that we all help each other, no matter what our physical shape is.

Our Group at Cerro Negro

The first year of this trip was transformative. I was given a new way of looking at things, and a new perspective on life. It sounds trite, but it is true. However, I have been on this trip 5 times, and have often struggled with subsequent years, trying to determine what new I could learn from the trip. This year, it became clear that my purpose was, to paraphrase Saint Ignatius’ motto for the Jesuits, be a man for others. I was able to help someone down the volcano who was terribly afraid of heights, and I know meant something to them.
Monday July 13, 2015
Today we worked in the community of La Chuscada, where we ave worked the past 2 years. the first year we put in the pipe, the second we installed Modern Bathrooms. (Link) This year, we’re putting in a wall to build a defined space for the school. 2 years ago, the school was under a tree, this year its in a temporary building which holds grades K-6. We’re building the wall for a more permanent structure for a school of 1000.
The work was hard, mostly diffing trenches, mixing cement and laying cinderblock. it was at least 95 degrees, and there was not very much shade. we got to the community, worked for a while, had lunch, and worked into the afternoon. The cement mixer broke down for a while, but would not be Nica if something didn’t happen. At the end I was sunburnt, and tied, but we went out for a beer after dinner and reflection anyway.
Tuesday July 14, 2015

Tuesday we spent a a family’s house, where they made us lunch, and we learned more about their lives. Here are the pictures: 
Wednesday July 15, 2015

Wednesday is my favorite day in Nicaragua. We went out to visit a nursing home in Corinto, which is a little down on the Pacific Coast. I sat and talked to Guillermina. You can see the picture of us here. We talked a bit about our lives and our families, and I introduced her to Emma, who was on our trip. In the afternoon, I hung out at the Cafe of the hotel.
Thursday July 16,2015
My notes on the medical team visits are here:
Friday July 17th, 2015

Friday was another work day, and we finished up with one full wall of the school’s borders  done, with a little more of the next. In the afternoon we played games with the kids, and set up a baseball and soccer games. As usual, the kids from Nica won. Some of them are quote talented.
Saturday July 18th, 2015
On Saturday, I went with the rest of the team to Managua, to get them off on their plane. I went into town to prep for my meetings for VMware. On the way, we passed the shrine to Hugo Chavez, which you can see here.
The album of pictures is here.

The Video of our trip is here….

Notes from 2014 Nicaragua trip (Unfinished)

(Note: These are unfinished, but adding them for the record)

Diary Nica Trip 2014
Welcome to another diary from my mission trips down to Nicaragua.
Friday 7/4 to Saturday 7/5
We left on the 4th of July, which is kind of hard. Its a day to be with family and friends and watch fireworks. But when I planned the trip, i was not sure of my work schedule and this is they way it worked out. We  left at 950p from SFO and got to Miama at 530am. I hate red-eyes, and i essentially forced myself to “go dormant”, not sleep really, but also a form of rest.
We wandered around MIA until our plane was ready. There was a thunderstorm and our flight was delayed about 30 minutes. While waiting, I read the latest in a series of books I am a fan of: The Dresden Files. Its essentially a book about a good man who ends up forced into bad things and how he deals with it.
Sunday 7/6:
We climbed Cerro Negro, and I took the back way, which is like a normal hike in Quicksilver(LINK), with more uneven terrain. It was similar other years. See the comments HERE.
Monday 7/7:
Today we got to go back to the community we worked in last year, La Churcada.(APPROX gps location). This is a wonderful community with a big generous heart and a  great leader. We heard from Sebastian before we started digging, and he expressed his gratitude and said we were family. My group got paired with a woman in the community, Matilda, and we start by working at her house by building the septic tank for her modern bathroom. (PIC of hole). We also made the rebar mesh for the foundation.  There were a goodly amount of children there, probably 7-10, and they are all related. They were beautiful children, and we spent a decent amount of time playing with them as well.
The important thing to know is that we’re replacing old bad water wells with a plumbing system which provides 100 gallons of water per person per day.
STORY about the PIG.
Tuesday 7/8:
Today we went back to La Chuscada to finish building the septic tank. We were able to build the foundation for the shower/toilet building. We also built the cover for the tank, which reminds me of my daughter Emma. The first year we were in Nicaragua, Emma had a great time mixing cement and building tank covers in El Chonco. We were able to mix the cement and make a cover, complete with rebar reinforcement. We were also able to finish the first stage of reinforcement of the septic tank, which needs to be up to 25 feet feet as it is supposed to last 30 years.
We also held some fun games for the kids. Here is a video of the shovel races.
(VIDEO  of Shovel race)
It was also very hot today, at least 100 in the shade. I ended drinking around 5 litres of water today, and ended the day with nothing more than a slight headache. Matilda, the woman at whose house we were working, made several things for us today, including more Limonada with fresh picked limes right off her tree. She also made fried pippin, which is a type of cucumber with home made cheese, which, like all the things were delicious.
STORY about Calvin and the Pieta’.
Wednesday 7/9:
Today I got a chance to deliver animals. The Pay It Forward Program gives cows, pigs or chickens to families in Nicaragua. They then have to give back an equal number of the animals in around a year or 18 months.  Some families have turned 10 chickens into 30, and 1 cow into three via breeding programs. It helps them provide income and a protein source for their families. We left Chinandega at 9am, and then headed up to Minas de Agua,  which is a gold mining community nerar Rincon de Garcia, where we worked 2 years ago. We got a chance to see the finished well an cistern up on a local hill. It was great to see knowing that we worked to start the relationship with the community. We picked up 2 cows there, and then drove 1.5 hours to the next stop.
(PIC of Minas de A.)
We then went to  Callemito to drop off the first cow. It was given to Carlos Sanchez and his family, pictured below.  The milk from the cow will provide important protein for health and milk fats for brain development of the children. We then drove 1.5 hours to our next stop.
PIC of Callemito
We then drove deeper inland to Marieta, which was a community deep in the hills. The couple, Elvi and Amada, had a beautiful little girl.
PIC of Carolin
You could tell by the streaks in her hair that she was likely defficient in B6 and B12, and was likely anemic.  The family already had some chickens, and the nurse with us said that she could see improvement since the family had eggs to eat and sell, but the milk and cheese would likely help her with her remaining deficiencies.
PIC of Elvi and Amada.
We then drove the 2 hours back to the compound in the 104 degree heat.
Thursday 7/10
Today was a rough day. I wasn’t feeling good, but I had to get out to the community so  I could see the family. I had thought long and hard about a question from the mother of the house, Matilda.
The bathroom being finished and well designed. (PIC)
Hunting for Mangoes (PIC)
Mass in the Field for the new school (PIC).

Nicaragua Notes 2013

Nicaragua Trip 2013

I am back from my annual trip to Nicaragua, and while these notes are late, most of it was written while I was there.


We started with a 1215 red eye flight from San Francisco to Houston. We then had what seemed like an interminable layover. It took 5 hours and I was in a fog the whole time due to lack of sleep and liberal application of benadryl. We flew into Managua, and then took a bus to Leon. We then spent an hour in the Sandinista history museum, and got a fascinating read on the revolution and counter-revolution from a Nicaraguan perspective. The guide was a guerrilla from the 80s, and was very polite, but was very upfront on the US role in the revolution in the 80s,and the role of the US in the assassination of Augusto Sandino.  Most of his discussion with us was on the roof of the building which had a great view of the city of Leon. We then drove to Chinandega and had dinner.

The view from the Sandinista History Museum


Today we got up at 7 had breakfast and went to mass at the church adjacent to the property. The mass was in Spanish but luckily the priest spoke slowly. After a brief orientation we got on the buses and drove to Cerro Negro. I have written about this  before, and I am confronted by a question. What happens when the transcendent becomes ordinary? Yes it was a hike in an amazing location, but the novelty has warn off. Then we took a 90 minute ride back to the compound for dinner.

The view into the major crater of Cerro Negro Volcano


This morning we had a brief orientation, and then went out to the communities. This year’s project was in La Chuscada.  It is a community about a 20 minute drive outside of Chinandega along the highway. It is a 20 min walk into the jungle from the highway. Most of our work was along what appeared to be a viaduct from an old watershed project. For whatever the reason, I worked harder than I ever have, manually. It was gratifying, but also tiring. No trouble with allergies. Mostly work with a shovel and a pickaxe, which is called a piocha in Nicaraguan Spanish. I worked with a 17 year old boy named Alfredo,who was one of the hardest workers I have ever seen. There was also a 13 year old girl named Patricia who worked hard as well. I also bought cheese bread,  called a palmita, from Lola, who is from Santa Catalina, one of the first communities that this NGO built. It was a great day.

The crew working on the trench monday
Digging in the trenches with Beth, the Gales and Alfredo


We went back to La Chuscada today do do some more digging. We laid 740 feet of pipe, versus 500 feet yesterday. Today I dug alongside a 13 year old girl named Isabel who worked extremely hard…because she was building a project for HER community. We started early, 9am, and dug until noon. Then after lunch we took a community tour to see their new water tank. There were other people who made a big impact on me today. The first was another 13 year old girl named Milago, whose name means miracle. She was working with her cousin, and was not very tall. The contrast with my daughter Anna was stark, yet the all held the same traits, namely they are strong independent young women. The final person who made an impression was one of the women on staff. ( I’ll protect her identity in case she reads this)    During evening devotional, she shared a story of how she made a decision that ultimately caused all of us to be late by 45 minutes…which in Nicaragua is being on time)  She said she felt terrible, and shared how she had struggled with depression. But that for the first time she had been able to realize how her negative thoughts were wrong and that she didn’t have to be held captive by them. I stopped by to talk to her afterwards, an told her how strong and brave I thought she was. I also told her that what happened was important because she could now heal. What she was able to do was to recognize a negative thought, and self-correct. And that is one of the first steps in healing from depression.

Also, a bunch of the youth did the Harlem Shake in the trench they we’re building. 


Wednesday’s are my favorite days in Nicaragua. We get to visit the orphanage, and I get to visit Chilo. I have written about her in the past. I could not see her last year, since she had to have surgery, but this year, she was there, sitting in her chair. She is severely disabled, and has little motor control, but she enjoy playing “futball” where I hold the ball for her left leg to kick. She is so grateful and laughs in in the most miraculous way. Afterwards, we toured the town.


Today we were back in the village of La Chuscada digging again, and I was working alongside Milagro again, who work has hard as any of us. I also had a chance to talk to the head of the village,  Sebastian, who kept using the word “historico” or historic, for what this work, the promise of clean water,  would mean to the community for the future of La Chuscada.


Today we had a “fun day” with the community. It was also the “triumph of the revolution”  day.  We went out to the community and had Mass. It was the first time many of the people in the village had seen in years. It was in both English and Spanish and was very moving. We prayed over Sebastian’s wife who had cancer. We then had lunch, peanut butter and jelly as always, in the community. We then had a baseball game with the folks of la Chuscada. We lost badly. They have some great players down there, soccer too. And most of then play barefoot. We then had the talent show, and my team did a bad interpretive dance version of Genesis 1. We won the fan favorite version.
  And I got to say good by to the woman on staff, but not before telling her how brave and strong she was.

Alfredo, his pal, and the baseball game


Saturday was a travel day, and we got home after 1am on Sunday.


After a lot of reflection, it occurred to me that this is the most impactful thing I do in my life. Without the experience in Nicaragua, I would not have made it through the first half of this year. Doing this kind of work changes and deeply impact you in many ways.

Notes from My Nicaraguan Trip

It’s 7:15am Saturday(8/6/2011). After a 3 hour plane ride and a 3 hour layover, everyone is sill in pretty good spirits. We’ll see how everyone does this afternoon. The Houston airport is weirdly busy at 6am.
It’s 9:23a on Sunday, we’re having breakfast and waiting to go volcano surfing. We’re in “the house,” also known as Casa Blanca. Most of the houses that I have seen in Nicaragua have been very open air, which makes sense when you consider the climate. It was hot a humid when we arrived in Managua. I was humid to the point that I was an open questions if you were sweating or it was condensation.

Once in Managua, we took a 3 hour ride on a school bus to the beach near Chinandega. We had mass at the local church, and when we arrived, the parishioners applauded, which was a surprise. The people were very beatific. There were 2 young girls who did the readings who were adorable. They were practicing for their confirmation. And Father Raphael was very welcoming.

We had dinner at a seafood restaurant, and we got to sample the local beers, Toña and Victoria. We got to the house around 11, and open air affair. Lightening struck the building, and the water was out. Something else happened early in the morning, when the power went out. The was a crash and a flash, but nothing seems to catch fire, and we survived.

And woke up around 7am. Now it’s off to the volcano. 

9:57p Sunday after the volcano. The volcano was an awesome experience. Walking to the top of the hill was hell, and there were many times I wanted to quit. But Sue Foltz kept me going and Bernie Terrien helped as well. Going down was great! It was like sand skiing! The weather was great, not too sunny and a decent breeze. I got my picture taken with Emma. She was happy to beat me up the hill, which was ok with me.. It was a long bus ride home.

8:52p Monday today was a 2 Part day. The first part of the day was a trip to the city dump. We walked thru what the amigos people call the triangle of death. It starts with the cemetery, and the just beyond, the city dump. This is significant, because, after hurricane Mitch in 1998, more than 300 families were forced to live the since their homes were destroyed. The Amigos organization was started by helping these people. Upwards of 150 families now have homes because of this project. The tour finishes bus visiting El Limonal, the community that lives by the dump.

Out of respect for the families, we were not allowed to take pictures.

It was very moving. There are still up to 150 families living there making a living by picking what they find from the dump.
The second part of the day was working in the village of El Chonco, which is one of the communities Amigos for Christ rebuilt after hurricane Mitch. It is a beautiful community in the shadow of the San Cristobal volcano.

It is important to understand that when El Chonco is called a “village” it is really an overstatement. It is a group of dwellings near a highway. The highest quality of the dwellings are made with cinderblock and corrugated steel. The lowest quality dwellings were made from branches, palm fronds, cardboard and old rice bags.
The children met us at the bus and wanted to play. I played with Juanita who I called Princess. She was extremely high energy and I got a hug from her. The rest of the day we worked on shower/toilet lines for the houses, digging a 2 foot deep trench thru the yard to the location of the bathroom and the house spigot.

9:32p Tuesday.  It was supposed to be a full day at El Chonco. Today we were mixing cement for covers to septic tanks, and digging out the septic tanks themselves. The day was hot, at least 100 degrees, but we ended making progress on two tanks. I got to play with the kids again.
Jenny and Cherise
The team next door

We went to via Catalina, which is the community that was built for/with the people of El Limonal, near the dump. It has a school, feeding center, library and a soccer field. We were there to attend a play at the school. It rained , and the power went out, but it was great to see the community. the play went on, illuminated with headlights of a truck.

Wednesday: this is a day I will never forget. In most lives, you rarely have intense emotional experiences. As you get older, you are lucky to have one of them a year.
I had two today.
This morning we went to an orphanage to visit a group of developmentally disabled kids and adults in Chinandega. Most days, the kids get some playtime by themselves, but are otherwise lift to themselves. So, having visitors is a big deal. I met a girl whose nickname was pronounced Cheelo. It was hard to tell how old she was, but she was about the size of a 10 year old. It was clear that she could not walk. I sat down with her and put my arm around her. As soon as I did, she grabbed my other arm gently, and kissed it. It was a small gesture, but I was overcome with emotion. I often go weeks without a human touch, and here was a child, willing to accept me for just sitting with her.
My Fiend Chilo (right)

We played a simple game for a few minutes, and I got her to laugh. She had a cute belly laugh. It reminded me of Emma’s laugh when she was a baby, because it shook her whole body. The tenderness of our time together, and sheer joy from Cheelo overwhelmed me. I had to work hard to fight back the tears. Emma out her hand on my shoulder to comfort me. The fact she would do that made the moment all the more special.
In the late afternoon, we got a chance to participate in the first operation of pumping water to the water tower in the village of El Chonco. We were extremely lucky to be therein that week. It is important to know that the group that runs these programs, Amigos, has been working on a water project for the better part of 3 years.they have been drilling wells, digging trenches for water pipes, exclusively by hand. They are doing this because the village El Chonco has no clean water source. The most common form of illness is diarrhea from bad water; most of the children have near permanent parasitic infections.
We big event of the week was the turning on of the well pump that fed a 2 mile section of pipe to the water tank for the village. We got to be theret  when it was turned on in front of the whole community. It was a moving moment. Maria, the leader of El Chonco , said she had been praying of this moment for 9 years. The the community joined in washing themselves in the water and doing so with joy. everyone joined in. The men from the village who laid the pipe were there; the staff members of Amigos were there and we were there to see it happen.
It is important to know that most of the houses in El Chonco have nothing. No power, no electricity, no appliances, and no water. Now the will no longer h ave to walk 2 miles  just to get even the smaller drop of water. Soon, they will be able to turn a tap to get water. Soon, this community will be able to take showers in their own homes. It was a great day for these beatific people. I had to once again hold back the tears at this thought.

This video is the best thing I have seen to convey the emotion of the day.

Thursday 6:14p today I  was on medical duty. We went to Miguel Cristiano, near the Honduran border. We got stopped by Nicaraguan army on the way which was a little tense for a while. But ultimately we got to the community . It was In The mountains, and we were in sight of Honduras. We had many folks with stomach issues and 2 kids with fevers. It started raining, and we had to leave so we could get across the river. There was a river between us and the town and the only way to get across it was to gun the engine and go thru the river.
Emma had a great day as well, and had fun mixing cement for building septic tank covers. They finished 5 in one day, which is impressive.
Friday: Today was supposed to be a light day. Emma and I went on animal delivery today. Amigos has a program where they sell pregnant pigs and cows to farmers in Nicaragua. Then, a year or so later the farmer has to give a pregnant offspring of the first animal back to the program back. In thi. HERE.
We finished the day by going to the beach a Corinto, which is about 20 km from Chinandega. We had Mass on the beach at sunset which was beautiful.
The quote of the day from Rachel (no last name to protect her,mostly, from embarrassment: “I can’t wait to get home and get some real American food, like a burrito.”
Saturday 2:30p. I am on the flight from Managua to Houston. On the one hand, I have a small case of diarrhea and a case of heat rash. I am also tired of sweating 24 hours a day. On the other hand, I will miss the place. First and foremost, the people, both from the trip as well as the people in the villages of El Chonco and Miguel Cristiano. The group we were with are a fun bunch and made everyone feel welcome. We have all had an intense bonding experience.
The people of Nicaragua were the real surprise. They were more than welcoming. And very friendly. Give the US’s previous political involvement in Nicaragua during the Contra War, I would have suspected more suspicion from them. I detected none. They were helpful when I asked directions, or asked them about their villages or towns. They are truly a beatific people.
Things to do for next year: (yes, I hope to go back)
0.    Improve my Spanish. learn more medical words.
1.    Get additional red cross certifications so I can be more useful on the medical team.
2.    Bring a gps. Some of the villages we go to are not on the map. I would love to know where they are.
3.    Bring American snacks for the staff.
4.    Get in shape for Cerro Negro.
5.    Hike San Cristobal Volcano.
6.    Write a new section on Chinandega for Lonely Planet
While there were many emotional responses I had this week, my one intellectual response was this: Nicaragua has a huge amount of potential, and much of it is being lost due to poverty. With a small investment in a few areas, Nicaragua could develop more fully as a country. These areas include:
7.    Agricultural development to improve yields
8.    More paved roads. Only 12% of roads are paved,
9.    More water projects like the one at El Chonco.
10. Better trash management. This will decrease the amount of trash burning.
11. More appliances for cooking, this would eliminate cooking fires, and reduced deforestation
Numbers 4 &5 are important, because the air quality is so poor among rural communities that emphysema is one of the leading illnesses.

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