Students from the UofA Rotaract Club take a break from construction work to visit with children from the elementary school in Belén
Two years ago, I remember walking into my teacher’s office, and listening to her telling me about the Roots of Change Foundation for the first time. When I saw the passion in her eyes as she spoke of the great work this organization was doing in Nicaragua, I knew that we were onto something special. Some months later, the Interact Club at St Albert Catholic High School put on a Wake A Thon fundraiser.
What, might you ask, were we fundraising for? Our catch phrase was: “To build a community center in Nicaragua by raising money for the Roots of Change Foundation”.
There was one thing nagging us though — we didn’t know the community receiving the funds. Many of us didn’t even know where the country was on a map, and sometimes we couldn’t even say it correctly – nick a rah gwa. Despite our geographic and linguistic naivety, our club had the passion and energy to raise $25,000 in 2012, and another $15,000 at the 2013 event, bringing our total to $40,000.
On February 15, 2015, I had the good fortune to travel with 11 other University of Alberta Rotaract Club members to the town of Belén, Nicaragua to work on the community center that had been the object of our fundraising two years earlier. The centre is basically a huge cement area, with a roof over the top of it—a completely open space with no walls. The community center is attached to the private school, so we also played sports with the kids throughout the week.
It’s been almost six weeks since my trip and I still can’t get over a feeling of sincere gratitude. I am so incredibly thankful for the Nicaraguan people, opening up their homes and community for us to share in everyday experiences with them. I am thankful to be seen as an equal, one of a group of students standing in solidarity with Nicaragua. I am also thankful to FUNDACCO and Roots of Change for encouraging us to build a relationship with the community in which we were working.
To all the people who have supported our Rotary Club’s initiatives over the past two years as we partner with the Roots of Change Foundation: you have been so impactful to the community of Belén. I cannot express how much hope and spirit we have shared with these people. Thank you for continuing to stand in solidarity with Nicaragua.