Our Special Events Manager began her first trip to Nicaragua with a group of high school students as Secia Visotcky, but left as “Cha Cha” – a name affectionately given to her by the young Nicarguan students who she met on the journey.
We periodically lead groups of Americans interested in our cause on vision trips to the field to see our work firsthand. We’ve led several excursions to India with groups from La Jolla Country Day High School, located in our hometown of San Diego, but this time Central America was calling. After a day of travel to reach Jinotega, the 21 students worked all day for five days to rebuild a local elementary school. They scraped rust off the chalkboard, repainted the building, installed running water, built a new roof, fixed the restrooms, and built a tire fence around the schoolyard while bonding with the local students.
After helping at the school, “Cha Cha” led the students to Managua, where they met PCI staff at the Center for Rural Development (CRD). At the CRD, PCI trains local farmers on ways to increase crop yields and improve sales profits. Students learned the importance of coffee as a commodity to these growers, and saw how farmers grow, harvest, refine, and sell the beans. They also met a group of young farmers who had begun their own self-sustaining cooperative, in which they teach each other successful growing techniques and business practices.
On their final day in Managua, the students visited the Foundation for Children with Diabetes, which educates the community about diabetes and helps provide insulin for those already living with it.
By the end of the trip, students from both countries had bonded with and learned from each other. Nicaraguan students who watched the American students build a tire fence used extra tires to build a similar fence around the soccer field. Students who were initially shy gave emotional goodbyes to the friends they made.
At the final meeting before leaving, the students voted to divide the extra $1,000 they had brought with them between the programs they visited. Half went to the diabetes program, a quarter to a school feeding program, and the last quarter to the CRD.
“It’s about students inspiring students,” said “Cha Cha” after her return. “We want to get the next generation of philanthropists engaged in other communities, to help them think globally.” Additionally, the trip showed the Nicaraguan students and farmers that people around the world care about them.
“I have been talking the talk but seeing the field gave me a deeper understanding of PCI and rejuvenated me and made me proud of what PCI does. It doesn’t matter the size of your home or how much money you have, home is where the heart is. These people are happy and kind and inspiring.”
Written by Amy Williams, PCI Development Assistant