Sophie is a high school junior in the STEM Academy at Madison College. Stepping out…
Aurora is in her second year pursuing a degree in Biochemistry.
When I first signed up for BWAP, I knew next to nothing about Nicaragua. In fact, when I first signed up, we weren’t even planning to go to Nicaragua at all. Political tensions in Guatemala changed our destination and all our plans and gave us the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua instead. Opportunity is one of the things I’ve been thinking most about following our trip. My childhood was full of trips around the United States. As a US citizen, I have plenty of opportunities to express my opinions publicly without fearing for my safety. My family has the financial resources to send me to a college that is within the top 10 research schools in the country. I didn’t work for any of those opportunities, save for getting into UW-Madison. They were easily accessible to me because of the place I was born in and the people I was born to, and though I cherish them, this trip has made me think more deeply about what I should be doing with the opportunities I have.
Nicaragua is a beautiful and vibrant country with kind people and a great deal of culture and history. It was a wonderful place to visit, but there was a great deal more going on underneath the touristy surface layer. Living in one of the poorest countries in South America and in the midst of a human rights crisis, Nicaraguans have been forced to cope with a low opportunity environment. Whereas I can say next to anything due to the place I was born, living in Nicaragua means that if you want to become a reporter, you either have to work for a government that censors information and lies to its people or risk ‘disappearing’. The political situation is complicated and problematic and economic issues mount to make opportunity hard to come by and harder to hold onto.
So, what does that have to do with me? In short, I’m connected to Pres House, Pres House is invested in Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN), WCCN is invested in companies in Nicaragua like Aldea Global that loan money to local farmers and businesses. During our trip, we met one such farmer and had the opportunity to ask him about what exactly Aldea Global had done for him. He shared that the capital that Aldea’s loan gave him allowed him to purchase things like fertilizer and farming nets that help him increase his yields each harvest. Increasing yields had a direct impact on his income and allowed him to slowly expand his farm and improve the living conditions for him and his family. He was able to buy a truck and improve their home and even open a small store that his family runs. Simply through having the opportunity, his hard work was able to drastically improve his business and home. Things like this also have a ripple effect on their communities. He is able to hire his neighbors to help him farm, therefore putting more money into the community, and increasing everyone else’s economic opportunity as well.
Seeing and talking to these people helped me to truly envision what life looks like without opportunity and start to think about what I can do to share the bountiful opportunity that I have here in the United States with the rest of the world. This trip has helped me change my view of investment as a means of making money to a means of distributing opportunity.
Read the rest of the BWAP Nicaragua 2024 reflections:
Rev. Mark Elsdon ~ Why Nicaragua?
Jack Wilharm ~ The Power of Microfinancing
Mei Hippe ~ Perfect Solutions?
Nathan Tan ~ Politics and Faith
Allyson Mills ~ Grace and Power Under Dictatorship
Kyle Digman ~ Murals in Nicaragua
Will Clancy ~ Politics of Faith
Sophie Elsdon ~ Nicaraguan Pride