Reflections: My Roots/Justifi Nicaraguan Adventure
On October 27th a group of YJP’s from NY spent a week traveling through Nicaragua exploring their values while making a difference in the lives of children in poverty .
By: Rina Yash
My first thought upon stepping foot on the fresh mud of the school grounds was regret for not brushing up on my Spanish.Hoards of children piled out of the so-called classrooms, running after each other in what I can only assume is their version of tag. They donned huge smiles across their sun kissed faces, face expressions that were a rarity in a NYC subway cart. As I soaked in the scene in front of me, a little girl skipped up to me, handed me a folded piece of paper, and ran away in a flash of a white-and-navy worn out school uniform, before I could even thank her. Inside the carefully folded paper was a heart with the words “I love you” nearly printed. I smiled to myself as I wondered if she knew what these English words meant. Over the week, I quickly learned that universal communication comes in the form of gestures and smiles. As we walked the dirt paths from the school, my second thought was disbelief at the living conditions before my eyes – Barbed wire fences surrounded the houses thrown together with slabs of wood for the roof, and swatches of fabric for the walls, as the dirt ground doubled as a floor. In our concrete world of skyscrapers, desk jobs, and happy hours, it isn’t hard to get caught up in our day-to-day lives, ignorant to the way the rest of the world lives. I yearned to experience cultures, challenges, and situations outside of my own comfort zone. I think I can safely say wiping black oil off my elbows as I painted metal beams under the blistering sun in a slum in the middle of a colonial city in Nicaragua is as far removed as I can get from developing footwear for a giant retailer in the heart of manhattan. My final thought as I boarded my plane was gratitude. We have no problem discarding the leftovers after a meal, while in Granada, families are living on a sole meal of rice and beans everyday. We’re always looking for the bigger and better house, meanwhile the houses here lack a simple front door. It was the most humbling eye-opening experience. I can never again bring myself to complain about the “fake walls” of my NYC apartment. They say that sometimes you can to travel far just to discover yourself. What I discovered in Nicaragua was the beauty of giving back, the strength in teamwork, and power of Tikkun Olam.