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Today was about to be one of my favorite days I’d ever had in Nicaragua. I woke up so excited for the day—coffee was unnecessary. Caira, Jonathon, and our new friend from the UK, James, walked from Hospedaje Elizabeth around the corner to La Movil Biblioteca (The Mobile Library). Volunteering here was something I had been looking forward to doing since we moved here. I had done some research online about the various non-profits in the area and this one in particular stood out to me.
In Nicaragua, there are no public libraries—something I know I certainly took for granted while growing up in the States. Unfortunately, therefore, kids in school have a hard time acquiring books to read both at school and at home for fun. This problem is what created the Mobile Library Project. Started by an American expat from Colorado, the library is stationed in San Juan del Sur and three days a week, every week, the library goes out to schools all over southern Nicaragua and acts as a public library where they can borrow used books.
As I wrote in my About Me, helping children around the world is one of my greatest passions. So, before we left for Nicaragua, we integrated giving back into our business model so that the giving is self sustaining rather than dependent on donations. We also wanted to give kids something tangible that would make a significant difference in their lives rather than just give money away and hope that it makes a difference. For every product that we sell overseas, we will give back a product here to a specific cause in Nicaragua. Sell a product, give a product. One for One.
Both Jon and I are very connected to education and believe that it’s the place to start in helping developing countries. It’s the root of where change can happen. Where kids can learn and eventually build businesses for their country, help their families or even go on to teach the next generation. We’ve spoken to several micro-loan companies in Nicaragua, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) as well as the local people themselves here and the consensus is that what really the people here really need are the tools to be able to do things themselves. Simply giving them things actually enables and promotes dependency. It makes sense and goes back to the old saying: “Give a man a fish, feed him for an hour. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” What people need is to be taught how to run their own economy, develop it and independently progress forward. How will they learn how to do all of this? Education.
We’ve incorporated this aspect in our business plan and have integrated it into our finances. The only things we needed to do next were to find the partnered NGO(s) and the specific product our business would give back to the schools here. We needed to figure out what they really needed. What would significantly help them in their studies and in the classroom? Volunteering at the schools with the Mobile Library was the first big step in answering these important questions.
We jumped into the back of the pickup truck that had two wooden benches installed on either side for volunteers to sit on comfortably. I was so excited—like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t wait to see the school, meet the kids and to experience what I came to Nicaragua to do. Next Article: Nicaraguan Elementary School