Thursday, October 14, 2010

Never Lose Hope...Later is Better than Never

Don't let the picture fool you -- it was NOT taken on the day this story takes place

Rainy season has taken a toll on just about everything here in Nicaragua, but most notably so, on the dirt roads. While biking out to a meeting the other day, this fact became quite apparent. The meeting was to be held at Elisa’s home, which is located at the very end of the peninsula and a fine spot for a meeting… if you can get there.

Yes, it was undoubtedly raining on this day causing me to question if I should even attempt traveling down this muddy, puddle-covered road. I had made my decision to make the trek despite the rain. In Nicaragua everything is cancelled when it rains. Schools close and children are prohibited from leaving their home because it is a “known fact” that they will become sick if they get wet. Being quite tired of rain (or even the potential possibility of rain!) and being used to the normal excuse to cancel, I decided to go ahead with the meeting. I was not going to cancel and be hypocritical; however, after each pothole that shot mud up my back, I began to doubt my better judgment.

Peddling away, my mind began to think of the group of people – hopefully – waiting for me at Elisa’s house. This group is compiled of fishermen and women from the island region of Granada. All in all, this region consists of 354 islands that were created hundreds and hundreds of years ago when the closely located, and still quite active, Mombacho volcano erupted, spitting rock and lava into the lake. Since then these people have lived and breathed off of the fruits of the land and of the lake. Each individual in the group will take out a loan with People Helping People Global to improve their fishing business. Most will buy materials to make nets and/or repair their boats. Oh no, I thought, with the rain and their leaking boats, it will be twice as hard, if not impossible for people to arrive. There I was feeling sorry for my own situation.

With Elisa’s home is sight, the final puddle covering the entire road proved to be the death of me or at least that of my somewhat presentable appearance. My tires were half submerged in the puddle. Inching along, all I could do to not fall in was continue peddling – shoes, ankles and calves fully submerged. On the bright side I had arrived. Elisa came out and offered me a warm welcome as we laughed about my state. My laugh quickly turned into worry when I saw not a soul had arrived yet. As we waited, making small talk, time seemed to creep along. My hopes of having our meeting on this dreary day seemed to be passing by. Oh well, I thought, at least I had an adventurous afternoon.

Just then, from across the field I began to see signs of life. Yes, they were coming! Our meeting would be held despite the conditions. Never lose hope...later is better than never.

The goal of the meeting was to announce which individuals would be receiving loans for the first round in their community. I was dreading this part the most. When the time finally came where I would read the list of the lucky ones whom had been randomly selected to receive a loan, my heart sunk looking at all who were not on my list. Those not selected would have to wait until February when we return from our holiday fundraising stint in the US. As I butchered the pronunciation and stumbled through the list my anxiety grew, anticipating the disappointment of half of the group would feel when I finished.

The time had come. I read the last name, and paused knowing the next step was to look up and address all questions. No doubt I would hear, “Why him, not me?” or “I turned in my request before her.” However, to my surprise, when I lifted my head I saw nothing but smiles, happiness, and peace among the group. I did not hear one complaint. There was no anger or hostility, even though each and every one of them is living in extreme poverty, hunger and poor health. A family making $15 dollars per week is considered blessed (with a family of 5 this would equate to less than 50 cents per person per day). Given the difficultly they all face, I still did not hear one complaint. I was praised for coming to their community and praised for offering this great opportunity.

As aunts, cousins and neighbors began congratulating one another. I smiled to myself thinking, I guess they do have the right mentality down here in Nicaragua: never lose hope...later is better than never.


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