Friends Rather than Strangers


Hi, my name is Emma Stefanacci and I was lucky enough to be invited to go to Nicaragua with Project Lumina. I went into this trip with the understanding nothing is, as it seems. I was completely correct in thinking this. I could not have predicted anything that has happened on this trip. Friday, the 11th, we left San Juan Del Sur and traveled to Playa Gigante where our surf-guide/best friend, Oliver, lives. On our way we stopped at both the boy’s and girl’s orphanages in San Marcos. We invited the girls to a beach day at the Monkey House, Oliver’s place, and gave them balloons. While it was hard to leave the girls because we were so anxious to have more fun with them, it may have been harder to leave the boy’s farm given that we are never going to see them again.

I definitely think everyone had a ridiculous amount of fun with the boys. They ranged from about five or six to seventeen. As soon as we got to the farm we were attacked by hugs just like when we met the Rainbow Girls. We played a game of soccer and discovered it is really hard to kick the ball straight when you are under pressure by someone who practices every day and can do a full Maradona at speed. Even though we were completely outplayed, we had such a good time. After we finished the game, the rest of the Luministas and I served sandwiches, bananas, cantaloupe, and milk to the boys. Before we left we did a water balloon toss and a quick volleyball game. No one wanted to leave. In the car we all said it was because we were having so much fun, but I think there was more to it.

It was really fun for us to be with the boys, but they were also so happy to have some attention. I think I figured out the reason we were so sad to leave. Instead of the reason being just the fun we had, it was mostly the fun we provided to these boys who rarely got any attention from anyone. I think it gives the boys a sense of hope when people come to visit them. It makes it seem that they aren’t by themselves. The visitors change the scenario from surviving to actually living. I also noticed everything was a competition between the boys. The doors on the kitchen had to be locked so no one went back in to get more food, when one water balloon popped everyone wanted another in order to be “the last man standing”, and some of the older boys claimed a few of our girls as “girlfriends” and in some cases “fiancés”. This fascination with being the best inspired some deep conversations about the difference between boys and girls and how competition affects those around us. 

I personally think, after taking some time away from the situation, it was an amazing thing to have spent time with the boys at the farm and it was difficult to leave for many reasons. We had so much fun being there and knowing we were helping people who really needed it. The other thing that made it hard to leave was how welcoming the boys were to us. It was more like we were friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while than complete strangers. I definitely wish we could have spent more time with the boys, but I understand the circumstances and am ready to face whatever challenges come next.