Pre-trip returning volunteer blog: Deidre Slingerland

Written by volunteer Deidre Slingerland:

It’s almost here! In just a few short days, I will find myself again making the journey to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua with Random Acts.

But why? One could argue that I am simply a fan of the organization as a whole. This wouldn’t be untrue. Also, I was a part of the final Hope 2 Haiti trip in 2013. That did in fact play a large role in why I decided to fundraise last year when RA rolled out with Dreams 2 Acts. I was successful in that venture, and joined the team in SJdS in November 2015. But the biggest factor? It’s the fact that what I saw last year surprised me. I expected to be completely taken in with the students of the Free High School. I expected to be floored by their determination, humbled by their kindness, and inspired by their hard work. All of these expectations were indeed met and exceeded. What I did not expect was to be utterly blown away by the workers at the construction site.

You see, Random Acts does things differently than many other organizations. A lot of service projects send their own volunteers to complete the work itself. With RA, we are instead helping to employ local people to do the labor. Yes, during our week in SJdS, we sanded, we mixed cement, we dug, we bent metal, we painted… the list goes on. And I’m proud of it. I’m proud to look at the building that is taking such beautiful shape and know that I had a hand in that. However, I was there one week. The construction team is there year-round. And they are incredible! I truly have not been able to stop talking about them since I returned home.

One thing you should know about the workers is that some of them are also students of the very school they are building. This project is personal in a way that is hard to match. The love that they are pouring into this is palpable. They are skilled and take such care. I had no problem returning home and fundraising a second time because I knew that every dollar raised would go to such good use. It’s easy to go door to door in the snow when you know that your efforts help a dedicated worker to feed their family.

Second, they are so patient! I fully own the fact that patience is something that I personally struggle with. Not this group! I often think back on the day I was being taught how to properly bend metal. Let me tell you—it was not one of my strengths! Everyone on that site was so patient, not only with my lack of skill but in regards to the language barrier as well. I never felt like anything less than a part of the team, and I will always be forever grateful for their kindness.

So… I decided to raise money again this year. To be honest, it wasn’t even about making the trip as much as it was seeing to it that the Free High School received the funds that it needed. It was about education. It was about ambition. It was about hard work. It was about love. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the notion that our purpose on this planet is to lift one another up. We are here to support and to encourage. I cannot adequately express how supported and encouraged I felt last year in SJdS. I fundraised this year to give just a little bit of that back.

That brings us to now. Here I am. I made it. On Friday, I’ll be back in Nicaragua. I cannot wait to see the construction site. I am so eager to get my hands dirty again in this project that means so much. With each passing video update from Austin, my anticipation has grown. I am beyond excited and honored to again be working side by side with this group that I admire so much. ¡Vamos a Nicaragua!

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