Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ready, Set, Ometepe!

Last weekend, the PDs embarked for Ometepe Island, located in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. Ometepe is home to two volcanoes, Maderas (extinct) and Concepcion (active). The purpose of our weekend retreat? To reflect, refocus, and conquer Volcán Maderas!
The month of March ushered in spring breakers from 6 differed colleges and the start of Semana Santa, Holy Week. PDs were scattered among the different groups and later among different countries (USA, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama) as we took our Holy Week holiday along with the rest of Central America. After reuniting in April, we were ready for a weekend away to reconnect and reflect upon our last few weeks. We ferried from Rivas to Ometepe and took the bumpy road to Finca Magdalena, a pretty hippy hostal located at the base of Volcán Maderas.

After checking in and chilling out, enjoying the beautiful sunset views and local flora and fauna, we gathered to recapitulate the events of March. We discussed things we learned from our weeks with spring breakers and how we can use that to shape our summer volunteer sessions. We gathered ideas on summer volunteering opportunities and are getting so excited for the new groups we’ll be hosting in May and June. Amira also encouraged us to think about our goals for the rest of the year. With only a few weeks left of April, Summer Sessions, and then July’s arrival of new PDs, the rest of our year will be over in a flash!
Saturday morning, with a 6:00 am wake up call, we conquered Maderas. Below are some photos of the weekend.

Traffic jam on the way to Finca Magdalena

Emergency plan

Kickin' up dust with the volcano smoking in the back

Kelly helps Ian clean up at the top of Volcán Maderas

Eerie view from the top

View of active Volcán Concepcion from Volcán Maderas

Thanks to PD Ian for all the photos!

Jan Margaret

Friday, April 16, 2010

Transforming Chureca

Managua's municipal dump, La Chureca, has sat on the shore of Lake Managua since 1973. Each of those 37 years has seen the refuse pile and conditions worsen... until now.

In August 2007 María Teresa Fernández, the Vice President of Spain, was so moved by a visit to Chureca that she committed US$45 million to transform, in her words, "garbage to human dignity." After an extended legal battle with Chureca's owners over purchasing the property, we are finally seeing action.

The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECI) has partnered with Managua's mayorship to enact a sweeping plan to transform Chureca. The plan will cover the trash, creating a landfill. More impressively, though, a recycling plant will be built, which will employ 2,000 workers living in Chureca. New homes will be built, a bit farther from the landfill, and families will be moved out of the slums adjacent to the trash.

For more information about the AECI program, read The "New" Chureca.

Dirt movers are now a common sight, pushing mounds of dirt over the trash

Project workers (in construction vests) rest as tractors clear a space for new homes (background)

Temporary houses have been built for families living too close to construction

Chureca from a nearby vantage point