Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm Off

Thursday morning I am off to Nicaragua. After a year of hoping, dreaming, and planning, I’m actually going.

I first learned about Lacrosse the Nations through Middlebury lacrosse connections. The non-profit organization uses the sport of lacrosse to bring together a trash dump community in Managua, Nicaragua. A trip down last February with Brad and others from Midd turned my life upside down and had me hooked.

Spending a week in La Chureca, the trash dump community, made me feel completely alive.  Somehow, surrounded by trash and despair, I felt a sense of peace. I was forced to live in the moment because the moment is all these people have.  The future does not exist when the main concern of the day is where the next meal is coming from. And I learned a lot from the moment. Millions of moments. Concerns of tomorrow, next week, and next year are suddenly a little less urgent and important. 

The constant contradiction of emotions sat somewhere between my gut and my heart.  I was no longer able to pretend that people in the world don’t live this way. In a place of utter despair and inhumane conditions, humans were more alive and compassionate towards complete strangers than I could ever be. 

Instantly drawn to the community, I immediately tried to figure out a way to get back. A little luck, a lot of planning and an incredible network of support are the reasons why this trip has somehow become possible. I couldn’t be more excited.

A little background.

Lacrosse the Nations is an international humanitarian organization, a 501c3 non-profit organization, that uses sport and play to provide education, mentorship, nutrition, opportunity and hope to children living in impoverished communities around the world. It is currently focused on helping the children of La Chureca, a community of about 1,000 people who live in a trash dump within the city limits of Managua. It works closely with the School of Hope, a semi-private school in the dump, to provide lacrosse as physical education, to support a nutrition program in the school, and to build a trusting relationship with the community. The organization currently provides financial support for two meals a day for the children as well as equipment for the children and stipends for three Nicaraguan coaches.

As we begin the second year of the lacrosse program in La Chureca, we are planning to take the program another step further and develop a life skills curriculum where we use the sport of lacrosse to help teach basic health, nutrition and hygiene, as well as skills that are developed through sports such as self empowerment, goal setting, responsibility, teamwork and leadership. The program will also provide the incentive, motivation and financial support for the children to pursue higher education. We are also researching a nutrition curriculum to provide nutritious meals for the food that we provide students at the School of Hope. I will be the first person ‘on the ground’ in Nicaragua for the organization and will focus my time on developing and implementing an effective curriculum and using the sport of lacrosse to inspire the youth in La Chureca.

The video on the homepage of the organization will give you a better idea of where I’m headed. www.lacrossethenations.org

For the first month(or until I figure something else out), I’ll be living at Hotel Los Cisneros.  This is the hotel where we stayed on previous trips down. The hotel is run by a Nicaraguan family who have 3 kids in their twenties.  Its familiar, safe and comfortable- a perfect place to get settled and dive in.

I’m hoping to write about my adventures as I go. I can’t make any promises about how often I’ll be able to post, or whether it will be of any interest to you. Either way, many more pictures, stories and videos to come.

Id love to receive emails and be in touch throughout the spring and summer.

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