Written by volunteer Andrea Nießen:
People sometimes ask me why I do what I do. Why I am spending my time off, my money to travel, and all my love on these projects for over 6 years now? And I always tell them the same: Because I experience with all my heart and soul that we are making an actual wonderful difference in people’s lives!
I just came home from my third trip to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua where we opened the first building of the campus for the Free High School we’ve been working on since 2015. Going back to the building site is always special, I love to witness my own reaction to all the progress and I love to see the faces of everybody who travels with me. This year it was even more special, because there it was, the first finished building, so beautiful, the first part of the school that shall provide not only education but hope and a means of fulfilling dreams too. This is one of the many reasons why being in San Juan del Sur is so wonderful: it makes everything we work for at home so real, the actual difference we all make together.
During the beautiful opening ceremony of the first building a day later we met many of the students, some of them already familiar faces, dear people whose stories touched us. I remember that on our way to the ceremony I thought, I will be fine, I will not cry at all, I am a Pro at openings and I did that before with the Jacmel Children’s Center we built in Haiti. When we arrived, the air was filled with excitement, with hope, with expectations, with the energy a group can create when they work together for something with all their hearts, regardless of whether it’s us working for a vision becoming reality or the students working for an education, for a better future. The best reward for volunteering and fundraising is to see the building you helped turn into reality, experiencing how the students fill it with life and their passion to learn. I still see myself quietly walking through the rooms while the building became what it is meant to be, the students in the first finished classrooms, laughing with each other, ready to study, already feeling belonging here, it was wonderful! It showed me that what we do here is so meaningful, how many hearts are hanging on that school and how many lives are touched deeply by it becoming reality. Against my expectations of being a “Pro” ;) I felt very fast how much thinking about this all right there moved me to tears. I wish to bring this feeling home with me to all our supporters that were not physically there but in our hearts. They all make it possible for us to go there, to help with our own hands, to meet the students and to hear the stories of their lives. I wish that every donor can feel what an actual wonderful change they make as an important part of our team!
For the present and the future – there is still much to do. The first building may be finished and we opened it as the space to teach is so necessary. But our wish is to create a campus that meets at least some of the standards we have here. We definitely need more space; right now many of the 350 students are learning in tents. So the second building with more classrooms is a top priority. We also need a little storage space, a handicap bathroom, a social area, and we all carry the dream of a little daycare in our hearts. Our school shall bring education to people who would not have access to it otherwise. Some of them are young moms, right now they have to bring their kids into class. We wish to help them by providing a little day care on the campus so that they can concentrate on working for a better future, not only for them but for their children too. For this we will need more support until next year when we wish to be finished with the whole campus.
I just qualified for the next trip and am excited to see the whole vision become reality, to feel one more time how profound all our support is and to bring the love, the appreciation and experienced knowledge of what we all made happen back to you at home. We, the volunteers will be your bridge between your wonderful, needed support and the campus with its students in Nicaragua. Please help us with a donation if you can and feel how you become a part of something truly meaningful! And I hope to be able to be back with more experiences to share later…