While attending a meeting with Jane, the owner of the Mobile Library Project, we were introduced to a very nice gentleman named Luis who was the principle of a local school called Los Pipitos. After we explained what Life Out of the Box is, he asked us if we would be willing to give out notebooks and pencils to the students in his school on the first day of school. It would be perfect timing: everyone would start off the new semester with a brand new notebook and pencil thanks to our customers!
Los Pipitos is a school for children and adults with disabilities and special needs. It’s a small program that makes a big impact in the students’ lives who go there, so we were excited to be able to give to these students and to this school in a anyway we could.
Early the next morning, we grabbed our box of notebooks and pencils and started walking on the main road out of town. We didn’t know exactly where we were going, just the general direction of where we needed to go.
Twenty minutes later, after asking a handful of people where the Los Pipitos school was, we found the wonderful school in a quiet and quaint little neighborhood. On the outside of the blue building was a beautifully painted sign that said “Los Pipitos”. We made it!
We walked up to the school where Luis greeted us with a big smile and a firm handshake. He told us that he, the parents and the kids were all very excited about us being there. We walked over to a bench to set our supplies down and introduce ourselves to the students and parents. Everyone was so welcoming.
The first kid we were introduced to was David. We both knew that as soon as we met him that he was a child that would stay in our hearts. He came up to us with a big smile and politely shook our hands. We introduced ourselves to him and his mom and then told him that he could pick out whatever notebook and pencil he wanted for school. Excited, he dug right into the boy notebooks and began to laugh with joy.
His mom stood with him and they eventually chose his favorite. He told us that he loves to surf and his favorite subject in school was Spanish. He then looked at us both and thanked us–it was one of the most powerful moments for me in Nicaragua. His mom then grabbed my hand, looked me in my eyes and thanked me as well. Both were so sincere when they thanked us that it brought out emotion in both of us right away. We smiled and told them it was our pleasure. It was a defining moment that reminded us why exactly we are here doing what we are doing.
The next half hour, we gave every student in Los Pipitos a new notebook and pencil. We got to know them, as we always do when we do givebacks, by asking them their name, age, favorite subject in school and what they want to do when they grow up. The answers all varied, as they usually do, which is a beautiful thing to see. We always make a point to ask the kids “What do you want to do when you grow up?” because it makes the kids think about their future and gives them hope. Hope is the beginning of dreaming and everything starts with a dream.
Meeting all of these kids, their parents and the wonderful teachers who spend most of their time during the week teaching these students and giving them the tools they need to learn was a humbling experience. It was just a little school off of a dirt road in a hidden neighborhood 20 mins outside of San Juan del Sur, a place neither of us would have ever known about, but are so thankful we do.
That school changed us. It made us think. It made us grateful. It inspired us. It motivated us. It made us work harder when we got back home. We wanted to make sure every David that needed a notebook and pencil for school got one. This was our job, our duty. We were honored that the “thank you” from David would stay in our hearts throughout all of the schools we would go to. We had come to Los Pipitos to help by giving school supplies, but of course the students gave us so much more unintentionally in return. I suppose that’s what we’ve learned over and over here in Nicaragua: in giving to others, you actually receive more than ever expected.
We walked home, hand in hand, and couldn’t wait to start working on the next project with the library and rotary club and give more school supplies to students the next day.