It’s hard to really know how much you take for granted until you see true poverty with your own eyes and experience it with all your senses. People told me over and over again how much of a life changing experience going to Nicaragua was going to be. I believed them. But now, as I sit in my air-conditioned home with my laptop up and running, I find that my life is changed in more ways than I can comprehend yet.
When I think that just over a week ago I was in a foreign country, putting new roofs on houses in La Solidaridad, an odd wave of nostalgia sweeps over me. It already seems so long ago that I had the privilege to help people in a community where something as simple as a metal roof could make all the difference. The giant smiles on the faces of the families we helped will stay forever in my mind and in my heart. The gratitude they expressed in their eyes and in their actions will stay with me too. And yet everyday that we worked, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit guilty that I would get to go back to my homestay and take a nice, refreshing shower and eat a nice, big meal while this community was just happy to have a sturdy roof overhead to keep the afternoon’s inevitable rain out.
Coming back to the US, my guilt increased a little bit more. Not only was I enjoying hot showers and iced coffee now, but I wasn’t even remotely helping people in need. Then I started going through my pictures from my five weeks in Nicaragua. While a small feeling of guilt still remains, I know that I can use it to drive myself to continue the work that I’ve started. While I do have the opportunity to take Starbucks and Google for granted, I also have the opportunity to go to places like Nicaragua and start working on ways to improve conditions so that one day the people we helped may be able to take hot, running water for granted, too.
After spending 3 and a half weeks learning about Nicaragua, and then another 2 weeks just replacing roofs, I know that there is a lot that must be done before before anything can be taken for granted in that country. But for now, I feel very good about the work that we have done and the work that my 5 fellow Nourish members are continuing to do.