Although there is much more I would like to share about my homestay experience, we´ve almost passed a whole week without updating you about our recent activities in Esteli. The closest city to the campo where we spent time with families, Esteli is a relatively small and charming city, and we`ve all enjoyed spending so much time here. The UNAG planned some great days for us to see other nearby principalities with communities struggling just like those in Limay. We visited a cooperative in Condega and affiliates of the UNAG in Pueblo Nuevo. Both were extremely eye-opening experiences. It really made me realize that poverty is very relative. After spending a week in Limay where they have so little water and nothing can grow, parts of Condega appeared well-off simply because they had the ability to grow plantains. In Pueblo Nuevo, the community we visited had their own pila to supply water, which the people in Limay would die for.
There are several departments in Nicaragua, one of which is Esteli. Within Esteli, there are several principalities, such as Condega, Pueblo Nuevo, and of course Limay. And within each principality, there are countless communities. It has been overwhelming to visit other places and look out over the rolling mountains that seem to extend forever. Throughout each mountain that make up the majority of the country, there are communities similar to the ones we have seen. Each one does not have enough water, and in each one many women are constrained to domestic work and serving the men. I`ve been thinking of all the people that could benefit from the loan fund, yet we can only help one little principality. And even then the way in which we can help is very limited. I know it`s better to focus our efforts on a specific place rather than spread ourselves too thin, but I can`t help but feel like we`re not doing enough.
Recently we`ve been questioning our purpose as a delegation. It is unrealistic to believe that our donations can bring people out of poverty. As the president of the UNAG in Limay said, we are helping move people from extreme poverty to poverty. The loan fund can be sustainable even if people are still poor. The only way to truly know the biggest problems in the communities and what the people want in order to improve their lives is to talk directly to them. That is why we will never be the ones to mandate where they spend our money. It is completely up to the discretion of the UNAG, who surveys the campesinos in the community to find out what they want most. In addition, it is clear how much the people we lived with value our solidarity and really want us to come back and maintain contact. Although it feels unsettling to wind down our trip without completely a concrete goal, that is the point. We are supposed to feel unfinished because our work is never finished. We have much to do in order to continue the relationship and help as much as possible from Oberlin.