The Nicaragua Project is one of Saint Joseph’s most predominate service-based clubs, benefiting both members of the College community as well as Nicaraguan citizens. Eight years ago, the College started a study abroad program that gave students the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua where they participated in service activities while experiencing daily life in a developing country. However, only a limited number of students are able to go on the trip. This resulted in the need for service opportunities that would still be accessible to those students who could not travel. About 6 years ago, the Nicaragua Project club was formed to help raise funds for the trip and the supplies needed for service activities in Nicaragua. What sets the Nicaragua Project apart from the other service-based clubs on campus is that it is not a local chapter of a national organization; instead, it was founded right here at Saint Joseph’s.
The main beneficiary of the club’s hard work and effort is the small community of Subtiava in Nicaragua. Over the past eight years, study abroad students and club members have been able to provide a plethora of opportunities to this poverty-stricken community. Over the course of multiple trips, they have built a playground, a baseball field, and the most recent addition is a preschool–named San José as a tribute to the College. All the money the club fundraises goes directly toward supplies needed to maintain these pre-existing structures, to build new structures, or is donated directly to the people of Subtiava. Recently, some money has also been used to help supplement the salaries of the teachers who work in the San José preschool. The teachers only receive $25 a month from the government, so the Nicaragua Project helps to increase their monthly salaries to $125 a month. Although these salaries seem incredibly low by American standards, to these teachers that extra $100 means the world to them and greatly contributes to their survival.
The Nicaragua Project will be hosting several fundraising events this fall in order to help defray the costs of the community’s various needs. They are currently partnering with the Pulsera Project, which is a national nonprofit organization that sells woven bracelets (called “pulseras” in Spanish) made by young Nicaraguan artists to people across the United States in our sustainable fair trade market. The Nicaragua Project is currently selling “pulseras” in the cafeteria for only five dollars. Attached to the bracelet is a removable card that provides background information about the person who made your bracelet as well as his or her story.
On October 24th, the club will be hosting an Uno tournament. When asked why an Uno tournament, club president Margot Howard explained that “while in Nicaragua with the children, we often played Uno as a way to teach colors and numbers. So we figured why not bring the game to the College community as well?” After the tournament, on October 30th, Tony Bellizzi, the founder of the global organization Hope for the Children, will be coming to the College to give a presentation about helping people in developing countries. Finally, in the first week of November, the Nicaragua Project will be hosting their annual “Coffee Week” fundraiser where they will be selling coffee beans from Nicaragua to help raise money for their cause.
Every year the club adopts a new motto, and this year’s motto is “A la orden” which means “at your service.” The club’s goal is to serve as a bridge connecting Saint Joseph’s to Subtiava, while simultaneously serving both communities. If that motto or anything the club does has inspired you and you would like to get involved with the Nicaragua Project, please attend any of their upcoming events or their next club meeting on October 24th. You can contact them through their email at Nicaragua.firstname.lastname@example.org or check them out on their Facebook page at NicaraguaProj Sjc.
By Catherine Lamb