The Schools

Hi! My name is Lila Jordan, and I am one of the Lumina girls. For the past week or so, we have been meeting new people, exploring our surroundings, and learning how to surf. 
Today we got to see first-hand one of the more pressing issues that is not only being experienced here in Nicaragua, but in many other places around the world (including Colorado); finding potable water. We met with a man named Christian who has been working to get clean water to many of the schools here. He created a low-cost, soap-dispensing device that has been placed in some schools. This encourages cleanliness, and makes sure that the soap is not stolen the second it is replaced. However, something he kept saying was “what good does soap do if there is no water?” We took a trip to three different schools, which were all experiencing different situations with water. The first was a private Catholic school that had 175 kids, two bathrooms, and two sinks. Even though these conditions would be astounding at a school in a first-world country, it was extremely nice for Nicaragua. 

The second school had 140 kids, and outside was a large plastic tank with a faucet and a pump. This held 600 gallons of water, which was the only clean water for one day, and was to be used for drinking and hand washing for all the kids plus the adults working there. In order to have this water available, someone has to drive up to the school at 11:00 at night every night, turn on the pump, and wait for the tank to fill with water. Sometimes, the tank doesn’t fill and there is no clean water during that school day. At this school, the bathrooms were all outdoors and can only be described as sheet metal surrounding a hole in the ground. They were kind of like port-a-potties without doors. Because of the lack of privacy, many young girls are too scared to attend school and are missing out on their education. I think that this is a major concern because not only does it appear to be somewhat fixable, but even with doors the bathrooms are nowhere near clean and safe.

The final school was fairly small, and had two plastic buckets filled with rainwater, sitting outdoors, for hand washing. There were no other, or potable, water sources. Sitting in the street out front was an extremely long pipe that they were working on using to bring water to the school, but before this year there has not been any drinking water there, and currently there still is none. 

Looking at these different situations really showed me how difficult it is to attain one of the few things necessary to survival, and how easily it is overused. It was extremely interesting to see how many aspects of our lives revolve around ideas of what are acceptable conditions; especially since the futures of many young girls are being shaken by their choices not to attend school due to the fact that their comfort levels are being stretched. I have the opportunity to go to a school with both drinking water and bathrooms at every corner, and seeing the other extreme was eye opening.

At night, Christian gave a presentation on artificial, man-made reefs. At first, I was extremely skeptical of this idea because I am all for the natural habitat not being disturbed. However, what he is doing was not at all what I anticipated. These reefs are entirely for the sea-life, and not for appearance at all. He uses concrete construction bricks, metal rods, and wooden beams to create structures that he then lowers into the ocean. After only a few months (or days), they are teeming with fish, algae, and, after a while, coral. They are used as nurseries for fish, allowing them to have a safe home and to reproduce. I believe that these habitats can help to sustain the sea life, and hopefully raise awareness about the negative effects that we are having on the ocean. Today was an extremely interesting experience, and I learned a lot from all the tours and presentations that we were lucky enough to take part in. I am so glad that I have gotten to go through this journey with the people I am with, and cannot wait to see what the next few days have in store!