We left Masaya en route to where we would be spending the next five days – Laguna de Apoyo. It was pretty easy to find being that it’s a huge, extinct volcano. We drove up and up and up the side of the crater and paid our $1 fare to enter the reserve at the top. As we started to descend down the other side the sight was un-be-lievable. The crater lake was so MASSIVE and overwhelmingly beautiful and blue. The road down was windy, steep, and boulder clad and I couldn’t help thinking how close to the cliff we really were. We saw elderly men huffing it up the steep road, sweating as they carried huge bails of sticks on their backs. Most of the homes in Apoyo use wood burning stoves, which is why these men needed the wood. Being that Laguna de Apoyo is a protected nature reserve, however, taking the wood is technically illegal, but I guess they don’t have many other options. It’s really hard to feel good about having the conveniences we do at home when you see people working this hard just to make a fire so they can feed their family.
We finally arrived on the shore of the laguna where the Peace Project Nicaragua was located. We were so excited to check out our home for the next week and meet the people we would be working with. Our adventure was really starting to begin….
Mike and I volunteered at the Peace Project Nicaragua in the Laguna de Apoyo back in September 2013. We had such a positive and enlightening experience there, that we found a way to continue giving back to an organization and mission that made such a difference in our lives. We are both board members of the Annapolis Rotaract Club (basically, it is Rotary International for 18-35 year olds) and I am the Director of International Service. Our club decided to take an international service trip and voted on going to the Peace Project! This August, four of our members will be making their way to Central America to volunteer with the same kids that touched our hearts a few months ago 🙂 Here is a little fundraising video I put together with photos from our trip there last year.
Vision Workshops is a non-profit from Annapolis, Maryland. Their mission is to provide innovative, dynamic, educational and life changing experiences for youth, using the tools of photojournalism. They not only work with youth and refugees in the Annapolis,Baltimore and DC areas, but they also hold workshops world-wide in association with National Geographic Photo Camps and Crossing Boarders. They give the kids a chance to explore their world through their cameras, to express their feelings and they help them find their voice through art.
When we decided to go to Nicaragua to work with the kids, I called upon Vision Workshop’s executive director, Kirsten Elstner, for some advice about teaching photo workshops to youth. I teach adult learners at the local community college, but this was going to be a completely different ball game. I was going to be dealing with young kids, language barriers, short attention spans, and all kinds of social issues. Kirsten was a wealth of knowledge, extremely helpful and got me really excited to get to work and expose the Peace Project kids to the art of photography. As if that wasn’t enough, she even donated a bunch of point and shoot cameras for me to use for the workshop. The best part was that I didn’t have to bring the cameras back and the Peace Project would get to keep them!! Thank you Kirsten and Vision Workshops!!
The Peace Project is constantly trying to keep the materials in their library updated and fresh. You would get bored reading the same book over and over, too, wouldn’t you? When we heard they were looking for some new books, we contacted our friend who works in international editions at National Geographic. Thanks to her, we were able to pack our bags with multiple copies of National Geographic Kids (in Spanish). We couldn’t wait to pass them out! The kids LOVED having something new to read. Thank you National Geographic!!