Friday, November 27, 2009

Investment in the Future: Barrio Avelardo Enrique Electricity Project

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of my fellow American readers out there. I have to say, eating a plate of nachos in 95 degree heat doesn't feel quite the same as eating my Grandma's broccoli casserole after the Thanksgiving Day parade. Regardless, yesterday was pretty amazing for a Nicaraguan Thanksgiving .

Well, let's start from the beginning. On Wednesday night, we hosted another Trivia Night for Esperanza-Granada, where we raised upwards of 600 cords (about $30 USD) for the group. In the middle of the game, the Executive Director, Pauline, called me over to tell me about a great new barrio that is forming in the outskirts of Granada, called Avelardo Enrique. Esperanza has already built a three classroom schoolhouse out there and they are in the process of putting up another three rooms right now. However, as you can see by the picture above, the electrical lines that the members of the neighborhood have put up are quite ineffective and very unsafe. Pauline invited Isabel and me out there to see if there was a way that we could help.

When we arrived yesterday, the neighborhood was bustling with hope and energy despite the fact that its inhabitants were living in little more than cardboard and iron-scrapped shacks. The members of the barrio are INCREDIBLY organized in spite of the lack of much money or decent living conditions. They've already received quotes from a local engineer on the estimated costs of installing better power lines in their barrio. The 40 neighborhood families have even raised about 2,000 cords ($100 USD) to go to the project. Just to put that into perspective, the average Nicaraguan in these parts lives on about 20 cords a day ($1 USD).

So that's where we come in. For less than $5,000, we can build the six cement posts needed to mount the transformer (provided by the local government) and provide adequate electricity to the entire neighborhood, including the new grade school. If these families are able to receive electricity, they will be able to work after dark (about 5:30 here) to create products for sale in the markets and vend items that require refrigeration.

We still have to meet with the community leaders to make sure that our help would be most effective there. Upon first evaluation, however, it looks like a great project that is much needed. It's true that yesterday was not quite the typical Thanksgiving, but it was definitely an experience for which I will forever be thankful.

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