Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In Nicaragua, we saw first-hand evidence of that truth. With its magnificent geographic setting and precarious political situation, Nicaragua is a country of great contrasts. It is both a desired tourist destination and one of the most underprivileged countries. While we experienced that sharp contrast vividly in our short visit, it was the people of Nicaragua who won our hearts.
What made the biggest impression on me, was the desire of families in poverty to give their children a better life through education. School is a privilege, a sacrifice, and a dream for the students and families we met. I was impressed by the two-pronged approach to education that Opportunity International has pioneered in this developing country; every student learns both a culturally useful trade, such as hospitality or agriculture, and receives a base that prepares them for higher educational goals. Equipped with this training, it does feel like they can change the world.
During our visit to the school, I had the privilege of sitting with a group of students from Emprendedora Technical School and listening to their hopes and dreams. For most of them, English was not easy, yet they knew more English than I did Spanish. Somehow we were able to communicate with a few words, signs, and gestures, resulting in lots of laughter. Their goals are lofty and though the impediments are many, I think they have a good shot at reaching them.
It has been hard to hear about the recent unrest in Nicaragua and to realize that some of Opportunity’s projects have been interrupted. My prayers are for the good work of Opportunity to continue to support Nicaraguans - one student and one Yucca field at a time. I believe that education, in any amount and of any duration, is a special gift that always makes a difference.