In the south of Nicaragua, there is a small fishing town called San Juan Del Sur that is rapidly becoming more and more frequented by tourists. The decision for multiple Survivor season filmings will inevitably continue this trend over the foreseeable future. Despite the influx of international spending, Nicaragua is still one of the poorest countries per capita in the world!
A group of 19 of us spent a week in SJDS for Thanksgiving last week. It was a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends in a non-traditional Thanksgiving environment. With such a large group, people were free to plan activities and days as they wished- with the exception of Thanksgiving itself. As my first trip internationally since forming RAKlife, I wanted to ensure that our group gave a little back to Nicaragua. Knowing that we were going to have a family style Thanksgiving dinner post volunteering, I set up a day of working with a local organization that acts as a school for the poor children of the area.
The school had just finished the week before, so knowing the large group size we had coming, the school put together a game day. It was described to us when we get there that these children do not interact with tourists and non-Nicaraguans often, so this became a perfect opportunity to give them a fun opportunity with a large, young group of Americans!
The children ranged from 2 to 14 and were naturally shy and hesitant to interact with their new arrivals. However, the first activity was to break into team, create team names and a team cheer. Within 15 minutes, all teams of Americans and Nicaraguan children were howling with laughter at both the continuous mistakes in language barrier as well as the team names and cheers we were coming up with.
The rest of the day was a blast – we had several relay races of types and even had the children smash a piñata, but perhaps the best activity came when we went to the beach for a while and the soccer ball came out. The children were breaking into two teams when I yelled out, “Gringos versus Nicaraguans!” This immediately sparked their energy up and we lined up sides and played “football” for the next 20 minutes. Inevitably, talent won out, and the Americans lost 1-0!
The first RAKlife event was a success. Even if it wasn’t a typical activity of random act of kindness, it showed me how much people simply need in this world. On the Nicaraguan children’s side, the children’s faces were lit up with smiles and happiness throughout the event. We brought them little toys as gifts (bubble blowers, yo yo’s, etc) and gave them out at the end – it was like Christmas morning for them. Such simple gifts mean so much to the less fortunate.
For our group, the same happiness was felt for different reasons. To a person, everybody came up to me at some point after the day and said how great an experience it was. I try to focus RAKlife on the benefits for those we are helping, but it would be ignorant to not mention the positive effect the random acts of kindness have on us as well. In fact, for the rest of the trip to Nicaragua, I witnessed several more random acts of kindness from our group to the locals. That chain reaction is what RAKlife is all about!
As a result of this day, RAKlife would like to help the school build a new playground. You can see the shape of the current one in the pictures below. No child should have to play in an unsafe environment like this. RAKlife would like to create a sustainable gift for the new generation of children, but we cannot do so without your support. Please help us raise money to construct a new playground for these awesome little ones.