Two days before I left for Nicaragua I decided to open up the donation coffers and give you all the chance to help a Nicaraguan in need through me. In those two days $250 was donated! Woot for my first fund raising event! Since the average income in Nicaragua is a little over $1,000, that much money can go a long way when put in the right place. The problem is . . . who to help? After directly experiencing the negative side effects of charity in Granada and San Juan (free-loaders and loss of personal responsibility) I felt inadequate to judge who could use the money the best, so I asked the locals from the non-profits I was working with to point me in the right direction; to send me to a great person in their community but who was in need and really deserved a break. So, without further adieu, here are the three recipients of your donations
Juan Antonio Carbrera
Juan, a kindred spirit to myself, was climbing a tree when he was 11, fell out and landed badly on his back, resulting in his paralysis neck-down ever since. Sometimes I go to a charity program and try to help out and just end up feeling crappy by the end of it – the drag of seeing people who are depressed and out of luck can pull you down. The opposite was true with Juan – he is a bright, happy, talkative, and funny guy who makes the best of his situation and stays positive in spite of always seeing what he can’t do because of his accident. He has a supportive family, staying with his brother and his sister in law, who foot the bill for his medications, his depends, food, and other care. That can be expensive, so we wanted to help them out while at the same time adding a little comfort to Juan’s life, who spends most of his time in bed. After chatting with him and his sister-law-for a bit, Alejandro and I took a trip into Rivas to pick up the goods (30 minutes away). This is what we picked up:
10 packages of depends (the kind Juan likes best) to help out the family with costs of care – $65.
A brand new orthopedic mattress to replace the one he was using, which was over 10 years old. It gets hot in Nicaragua, in case you don’t know, and fans only go so far – this bed won’t only be more comfortable, but also help keep him cool. We got a 34% discount from the mattress dealer since it was for charity – $102.
4 cases of Juan’s favorite drink: Powerade – $30.
“La Viejita” – (“little old lady,” but more endearing sounding in spanish . . . )
This woman has a pretty sad story, but continues forward regardless of the difficulties in her past. She is 65 years old and lives by herself about 10 minute’s drive from Rio Blanco on a rough dirt road. Her husband died years ago, and her two sons became drunks, ran the farm into the ground, and left her to herself. Each day she goes to a nearby farm that lets her pick limes and then walks to town to sell them for .5 Cordobas each (a little over 2 cents), usually making 30 Cordobas a day, which she lives off of. We got to her home a little late, as the sun was setting, and she was already about ready to lie down to sleep. The smoke was thick and the room dark, and there were a few chickens there to keep her company, but other than that she was alone. I couldn’t help but think of my grandma and imagine her in these conditions, abandoned by those she had raised. But the community continually reaches out in the ways they can – by giving her rides, helping organize donations through the churches, letting her pick the limes, and letting her live in her home by the side of the road. We were able to buy her $25 worth of food – 2 bags of rice, 2 bags of sugar, 2 bags of corn meal, coffee, quaker oatmeal, 4 pouches of instant soup, a loaf of bread, a soft fleece blanket, and soap.
Jader Roberto Rivera Lopez
14 days ago, after sunset, Jader was a few blocks away from his home when a rough guy he knew called out to him from across the street. This guy had broken his sister’s arm a few years back and gone unpunished, so Jader didn’t respond, which angered the drunken man. The man came up to Jader, who was sitting on the curb by himself, and tried to kill him . . . hacking at him with his machete, something commonly carried in the area to cut underbrush and kill snakes. Jader showed me the scars . . . one across his neck on the muscle right next to the jugular, one across his belly, and the rest on his arms. Shocked, surprised, and badly hurt, he somehow stumbled to his knees amidst the blows, got up unto his feet, and started to run. He made it close to his home by the time he collapsed into a gutter; highly polluted water flowed into the wounds in his left arm, forcing it’s amputation a few hours later in the hospital. Jader has had a difficult life; his father died when he was young, leaving 8 kids to his widowed mother. She was strong, selling tortillas and doing laundry to support the family, and taught her children to be hard workers. Jader became a truck driver for livestock in the area – now, with one arm gone, he’s planning on starting a little shop and selling goods from it. He’s a faithful member of a local Evangelical church, and stated “Since I’m alive, there must be a purpose,” and believes god will help him accomplish that and make a good living. His assailant, yet again, goes unpunished, but he’s trying to avoid anger, having faith that God will see to justice in the end. We had only $25 left, so we bought him some supplies – 1 bag of rice, 1 bag of sugar, 40 small packages of instant oatmeal, 2 bars of soap, toilet paper, powdered milk, toothbrush and toothpaste, and gave him 300 Cordobas ($13) in cash to use with medication or whatever else he needs. It will cost him about $1,000 to start his shop, for which he’ll probably take out a loan, if he qualifies, at a rate of 12 to 14%.
Thank you so much for your donation – for making this experience possible for the beneficiaries, letting me be a part of it, and letting yourself be uplifted by it as well. This is the kind of thing that makes living more frugally meaningful; the impact of a small amount of savings can mean a world of difference to someone in a developing country. The issue with donating is making sure the resources aren’t crippling the productivity of the recipient, the funds are going to someone truly deserving, and that a large percentage of the donation isn’t lost to administrative costs. While these types of projects for these 3 are crucial and meaningful, my goal over the next year is to find a focus for non-profit efforts that doesn’t just attempt to alleviate the pain of a few, but create uplift in the system as a whole; a sustainable, self-directed program for and by the people themselves which will help others like these three for generations to come. So – please subscribe, share your thoughts, and lets find that focus together. Thanks for reading!