Pequeños Going Home
Holidays at the Coco River
February 7, 2012 - Nicaragua
Yes, pequeños are at home with us and NPH is their family, but most also have family outside of NPH. Most of us, apart from the social workers, can only wonder and imagine where they come from. Pequeños come to NPH from all over the country, but the 30 youths in the home from the indigenous Miskito group invoke the most curiosity. They are from the northeastern part of Nicaragua, are bilingual speaking both Spanish and Miskito, and tell many stories about going fishing in nearby Honduras, mermaids, and much more.
My curiosity and friendship with the pequeños were motive to go and see the place our Miskito pequeños come from with my own eyes during a recent vacation when pequeños with outside family were home. The first surprise came very soon—I was aware the bus ride would be long, thinking that would be the worst part, but I grossly underestimated the length of the trip. Only two hours after leaving the capital, the paved road stopped and the old American school bus continued on a bumpy road until we arrived at Puerto Cabezas about 24 hours later.
A few days later I continued my journey to Waspan, a six-hour ride, passing by countless pine trees, and limitless holes in the road, souvenirs from the rainy season. Then, a three-hour boat trip separated Waspan from my destination. Suddenly time seemed to be passing much more quickly while I enjoyed the view of the Rio Coco, with Nicaragua on my left and Honduras on my right. I spotted the first pequeño before even getting off the boat, as he was washing his clothes in the river. The second was standing on the shore and gave me a warm welcome, immediately introducing me to his mother, the mother of another pequeña, and his baby sister.
The village is very picturesque, and offers a view of lovely wooden houses on the riverside with cows, pigs, chickens and other animals living underneath and around the houses. The infrastructure consists of one school, a small clinic with one nurse (when she is not on call, the medical care drops to zero), eight small shops, two churches, a sports court, and a sidewalk. Most of the houses do not have electricity. For water people rely partly on wells, but mainly on the river, where clothes and dishes are washed, and people bathe as well. Communication with the outside world is hard. To use a cell phone, one has to walk for at least fifteen minutes, go up a hill to receive signal and make the call—to charge it, one has to pay, unless a relative has electricity. The other possibility for communication is a small internet café at the school which opens a few hours every day.
To be able to see the village and receive a warm welcome in so many houses by the pequeños and their families was an amazing experience. But it also made the reason they are in NPH very clear as the needs are obvious: the beautiful small houses are occupied by numerous families, medical care is inadequate, disabled children do not receive the professional care they require, there is a lack of professional opportunities and education opportunities are limited. Having turned into pequeños makes these 30 youths very important for their families and community. The education NPH offers them means a world of difference and will enable them to fulfill the hope that they will one day become leaders of their community and can make a change in the lives of many.