by Mady Hernandez
Upon my arrival to Granada, I had no idea what to expect, I have never been to Central America let alone been away from home for more than a month in my life and now I’m spending 11 here in Nicaragua. What put me at ease about this endeavor are the beautiful things that have happened over the last month with the girls, in the community, and the people that have already come and gone… this place
is magic. And sometimes beautiful things emerge because of incredible teamwork.
Kelly and I were greeted by Larkin, our in-country director who quickly had to show us the ropes within the first couple of weeks because we had to lead a high school volunteer trip within just three weeks of our arrival. It was a lot to take in and take on; I barely knew which place had the best Gallo Pinto! Luckily for the Granada team, Mary McVeigh, SWB Executive Director and Shea Morrissey, a volunteer with the SWB program in Oakland, CA came down to help plan, direct and lead a successful week of camp. The high school camp brought twelve US students to Granada July 29- August 5th. The students helped fundraise for Granada’s program and brought an overwhelming amount of donations to our office, so thank you to them for their hard work! They each had great qualities that added so much to the week and we hope that they took home a piece of Granada in their hearts, as they impacted many of the girls that participate in Futbol Sin Fronteras.
So the five of us decided that the theme for the week was “Los Olimpicos,” the Olympics, which conveniently corresponded with the actual Olympics taking place in London. It took some creativity to execute the whole plan, from finding hula-hoops to make the rings to put up in Tres Pisos, to what we would feed our campers each day, to determining how to score each event and make the activities as dynamic and fun as possible for our participants. Even when we all weren’t sure if the activities would go well, because of rain or time constraints or lack of resources, somehow it all came together and the most beautiful part of it all was the happiness that the week brought the girls. We had over 70 kids in Tres Pisos every night!
The girls truly owned the week of camp embracing whichever continent their team represented: Asia, Europa, Americas, Oceania or Africa. Teamwork, cheering and competiveness were at an all time high. The stakes of competition were definitely higher than the real Olympics, I’d say. I’ve never seen a group of kids that excited to see how well their team did after each activity. It was so loud during our closing
ceremony, where we announced the team standings over the loud chanting of “RE-SUL-TA-DOS, RE-SUL-TA-DOS!” (Results! Results!). Alas, team Oceania won Los Olímpicos in the final games. There were some pretty great prizes for the girls and the funniest thing is that they all wanted these Marta bobble-head dolls that had all been staring at us in the office the whole week.
After the week was over and the high school students said their goodbyes, it felt good to have finished but felt even greater knowing that this is how I get to spend my year. Working with the girls makes you realize that sometimes you become the student and these girls are teaching me the most valuable things in the World, pure joy.