5-6-14 | Volunteers
Last week, I had the honor of traveling to northern Nicaragua with a group of Fabretto employees to deliver a donation of shoes for sponsored children at Fabretto’s centers. As someone who is relatively new to Fabretto, the trip and the direct contact with the children was inspiring to say the very least.
The shoes were donated by Fabretto Child Sponsors through the Shoes for All campaign. With contributions from 73 donors, Fabretto was able to purchase a total of 500 pairs of shoes for sponsored children and classmates. On this trip, over the course of two and a half days, we visited five of Fabretto’s seven education centers and delivered 315 pairs of shoes.
We began our trip outside of the city Estelí, at a school called La Cruz located in the city’s trash dump. I quickly learned that prior to Fabretto’s involvement, there wasn’t a school there at all for this community. Immediately, I was able to see why shoes are so crucial for the students. The roads in Nicaragua are unforgiving—dusty, rocky, bumpy and unpredictable. Fabretto students get to school on foot, and it was clear based on the state of their feet that their worn out sneakers or sandals simply didn’t protect their feet. As we delivered the shoes to the children, the impact of our trip and the donation began to sink in.
At each center, we delivered three styles of shoes: one for boys, one for younger girls, and one for older girls. All of the shoes were made of sturdy black leather with thick, durable soles to get students safely to school throughout the year. At our next stop, Fabretto’s center in Estelí, delivery went well but took a fair amount of patience, as it didn’t take long for the younger girls to realize they weren’t receiving the same shoes as the older girls. It was interesting to see that no matter what culture you’re in, every little girl wants to be wearing what the big girls are wearing.
Up in the mountains of Nicaragua, Quebrada Honda was by far my favorite of our stops. After our delivery, we hung around the school during recess. At first the kids were quite timid around us, shying away and blushing, but they became chatty when we started asking them questions about sports (soccer and baseball are clearly most popular), their favorite subjects in school, and what they wanted to be when they grow up. One little boy tried convincing me his name was aguacate (avocado in Spanish), and more than one “selfie” photo was taken on my iPhone.
Recess turned into lunch, where the kids were served rice and beans, white cheese, a fresh tortilla and a nutrient rich, cereal-based drink—pretty simple, but it looked delicious. I sat down with a group of kids who started firing questions at me between bites of their lunch (Do you have any siblings? Yes! Are you married? No…? Do you have kids? I’m 18?! Madrid or Barcelona? Um, I don’t follow soccer. Can we see a picture of your dogs? Sure). Unfortunately, about halfway through the lunchtime it was time for us to say goodbye, but the hour I got to spend with those kids was so memorable.
In Cusmapa, the most northern site, a family member accompanied each child to pick up their new shoes. It was always gratifying to give shoes to a deserving child, but it was even more gratifying to see the shoes being passed through the hands of the people that worry the most about the state of their children’s feet. Just as we were finishing up, it began to rain. As any child would do, many of the children left their shoe boxes safely inside and ran outside to play in the rain.
Our last stop brought us back down the mountains to Somoto, and after the delivery, I got a short tour of the center, including the garden. Many Fabretto centers and Fabretto-supported schools grow produce to complement daily meals in the nutrition program. At the moment, Somoto’s garden is focused on chia, an Omega-3 and fatty acid rich seed, along with onions, avocados, peppers and oranges.
My trip was incredibly inspiring, and provided me with firsthand knowledge about the Fabretto students, the conditions they are living in, and how Fabretto enriches their lives. From kids telling me they want to become teachers to watching girls play patty cake in the rain, it reminded me that no matter where a child comes from, each one deserves opportunity to succeed and do something meaningful with their lives. It inspired me to work hard to get the word out about Fabretto and continue to do so even after I leave Nicaragua.