The January ’06 Delegation left Bucknell January 8, 2006 on a 6:00 am flight. They arrived in Managua 12:30 pm. Click here to read a reflection piece written by Laura Holmes, co-leader of the January 2006 Brigade. Below are three letters detailing the trip, sent by University chaplain, Reverend Ian Oliver, who was a part of the delegation.
Dear Brigade parents and friends:
We’re just sitting down to dinner on Tuesday evening after a good day of work at the Nueva Vida Clinic compound. Groups were cementing walls, hanging electrical conduit, laying ceramic tile on the dental/lab building, sorting medicines, and translating in the clinic and giving out medicines in the pharmacy.
This morning we had a great talk on Nicaraguan politics by Mark Lester, from the Center for Global Education here in Managua. He gave us an amazing overview of Nicaraguan history and politics, especially of the last 30 years.
At the end of a dusty and dirty work day, there were lots of small children from Nueva Vida around the compound ready to play, and I saw our students giving piggyback rides over and over again.
This is an amazing group, and they’ve put up with very limited water for showers and toilets, tight quarters, and sometimes uncertain[t]y or language issues with work. But they’ve kept an amazingly positive attitude about work, about the Nicaraguans and especially about each other.
Tomorrow, we head up to the coffee cooperative at El Porvenir -- a difficult drive and then a long haul up the mountain -- but we’ll get a chance to meet the people of the co-op, see where the Bucknell coffee comes from and see a little of rural Nicaraguan life.
Everyone is happy and healthy and we appreciate your prayers and good wishes. We may not be back in time to send an update Wednesday night, but we definitely will on Thursday night.
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Dear parents and friends: This will probably be our last message of the trip, unless we get access on Sunday – otherwise we’ll see you on Monday night late. Everyone is healthy and happy. Andrew Trese is writing tonight’s message:
Hello all. We miss you. The last two days have been split between traveling to the organic coffee plantation of El Porvenir and working at the Jubilee House Community.
El Porvenir is beautiful. The vice president doesn’t button his shirt up. Growing on the mountain is a guanacasta tree (pictured on our 1 pound bags of coffee) --magnificent, towering, and over 500 years old. The view is breath taking (el paisjage as bella!), and they serve the best coffee you have ever tasted. Getting to the top of the mountain is an adventure.
During the day today we worked at JHC on a variety of tasks, everything from digging holes for septic tanks, laying cement blocks for a second story on the dorms, to chopping down weeds with machetes. If we hadn’t volunteered for this, it could (almost) be slave labor.
Tonight we were treated to a Nicaraguan political protest band that sang about the issues in Latin America. Then we danced and “hooped it up” (I like the 80s?).
All our love from Nica,
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Dear Family and Friends:
The January 2006 Bucknell Brigade returned to chilly Lewisburg at about 1 a.m. this morning, Tuesday, January 17. We left Managua at about 1:30 p.m. Monday, and cleared customs and immigration at Atlanta, before flying on to Allentown, where the bus met us. I’m sure many of the Brigadistas are sleeping in this morning.
The last two days of the Brigade were spent in travel and fun, after a full week of work on the Nueva Vida Clinic compound and at the women’s sewing cooperative. On Saturday, we had a full day tour of the Masaya area – visiting the Masaya Volcano, a craft market in Masaya, and then swimming in the Laguna de Apoyo -- a volcanic lake near Granada. That night, we went out to a local Nicaraguan dance club in Managua.
On Sunday, we toured Managua, seeing historic sites, concluding with a visit to the mountaintop park over the Tiscapa lake -- with a 360 degree view of the capital city. We concluded with evaluations and reflections late Sunday night.
This was an amazing group -- serious and thoughtful, but always positive and energetic. As my co-leader, Garry Miller said, they were always “on”, always willing to help, and engaged. Though they wrestled hard with questions about poverty and justice, they found inspiration in the stories of individual Nicaraguans’ courageous struggles to survive.
Thanks for your support for these students, and for the Bucknell Brigade.