“My experience in Nicaragua is something I wouldn’t give back for anything

… After deciding to look into it on a whim, I couldn’t imagine my life if I had not made that decision to go. After traveling to El Sauce with a group from my high school in the summer of 2013, I fell in love with the people, the culture and deeper into the Spanish Language. While in El Sauce I really put myself out there and tried to make connections with the people, which made the experience so much richer. Since coming back I have been able to stay in touch with some of those new friends.SENIOR PIC

As a first year Social Work/Spanish major at Niagara University, I reflect on my trip countless times a week and am constantly re-inspired by my experience. As a member of my university’s Spanish Club, I have shared my experience and now inspired the rest of my club to want to be involved. Currently I am planning a first trip to El Sauce for my club, and a second trip for myself.

I have wanted to go back to Nicaragua since the day I left, and am incredibly overjoyed to be working on another project. My dream is to have a connection with Nicaragua all my life, as it’s something that affects me every day. What I work for now as a Spanish and Social Work student is a future filled with trips like this. If I had not participated in the trip the summer before my freshman year of college, I feel as if I would have no purpose or inspiration.

In a recent meeting with Colleen, she told me about the woman I had built for, Doña Berta. Without meaning to I became emotional at the mention of the family I had worked so closely with. When Colleen mentioned that she  asked about me, which may have well been the warmest my heart has ever felt. After building a connection with these people I can’t wait until the day I will get to see them again. Will all my heart, I recommend a trip to Nicaragua to anyone ready for a life-changing experience. I was  blessed with the opportunity to change mine.

By Briana Neale

Golf for 4 Walls

Our donors are diverse. And also generous. And oh so creative.

Dave Root, on the left in this picture, bought firewood from 4W board member Bill Stock in 2010. They got talking, and the talk turned to Nicaragua and 4 Walls.

#us.001“The idea of going down there really appealed to me,” said Dave, “but I knew that was a dream that probably wouldn’t come true.”

So Dave, who owns the Root 5 Waterfront restaurant outside of Buffalo NY, decided he could help in another way. He decided to designate 4 Walls as the charity for his restaurant’s annual golf tournament.

This will be Dave’s third tournament to support the 4 Walls Project. The tournament will be at the Gowanda Country Club on June 30. Dave expects about 60 players who will have lunch at the club, play golf, and return for a steak dinner — with open bar and prizes — at Dave’s Root 5 restaurant.

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The hard work of the comité

Choosing who will receive a 4 Walls house necessarily means deciding who will not receive one. Every month there is another stack of applications to review. Choosing is not just hard work, it is heartbreaking work. Which house is neediest, the plastic one or the adobe one? The one with very old people or the one with babies? The dangerous house with lots of people in it? Or the one that is somewhat less dangerous but whose family has suffered in it for decades?

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Here are comité members Pepe, Ashley, and Jahaira on their way to one of the poorest areas of El Sauce where they will make a very difficult decision.

It’s about the connections

When 4 Walls volunteers visit El Sauce they make connections — friendships that are forged deep, cemented with hand-mixed mortar. The results of those friendships blossom in many ways. Students from the El Sauce English class travel to the U.S. and sit in on classes at SUNY Geneseo, coffee gets imported directly from the farmers in Ocotal, little scholarships are established to provide school supplies and uniforms so Nicaraguan kids can go to school. The list is long.

Recently, a connection was made between the talabarteria (leather workshop) in El Sauce and a high-end women’s boutique in Buffalo. The owners of the boutique have fallen in love with the hand-stitched purses and belts made by the talabarteria’s Tercero family. If you’re in Buffalo, stop in Turnstyle Designs and check  them out.

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News from the field

Ashley Sullivan, 4 Walls Liaison in El Sauce

Ashley Sullivan, 4 Walls Liaison in El Sauce

The comité has some enthusiastic new members. Until we get their photos posted, read the latest from Ashley in her message to us in the U.S.

Our comité is on fire and all members are truly showing an interest in the project — in how to help it continually improve and in how to best help the community. You would all be so proud!  This morning we met to discuss and choose which houses to approve for construction. Six will be built in November and December. We have a meeting scheduled for this Thursday to explain to those families about the 4Walls project, how the construction will work, their responsibilities, etc. We also decided to include some of our hopes for them (for example, that their house would continue to show improvements, that they would look how to continue making their house better such as with a floor, how to live hygienically, etc., to improve their quality of life). We have another meeting scheduled for Monday November 4.