Water Ambassadors to send team of 12 to Nicaragua
By Angelica Ingram
Next February a team of seven high school students from Haliburton Highlands Secondary School and five adults will be heading to Nicaragua for seven days.
The group of 12 will not be relaxing on a beach or soaking in the sunshine.
They will be rolling up their sleeves, working long days and doing their part to bring clean drinking water to those in need.
Organized through Water Ambassadors Canada, the initiative has been in the works for a couple of years, said Beth Archibald, one of the adults going on the trip.
Beth’s daughter Victoria, a high school student, has been wanting to partake in a humanitarian effort and a partnership between the not-for-profit organization came about through Lakeside Baptist Church and Haliburton United Church.
A team co-ordinator and leader with Water Ambassadors, Brenda McKee has been on many trips and had no difficulty putting together a team.
“It just all came together,” she said. “We’ve never had a team of seven high school students go. This is huge.”
McKee will be leading this team and has a good idea of what the high school students can expect, which won’t be a walk in the park.
The group is heading to Matagalpa, Nicaragua from Feb. 13 to 20. While they are there they will be providing clean water to those without. The youth will be repairing wells, resulting in safe drinking water, as well as working in local schools, a hospital and with the community.
“We’re going to ... a school with special needs students,” said Victoria. “We’re going to be playing with the kids.”
The area where the group will be heading to has a number of wells, however they do not provide drinkable water, said McKee.
“They’re contaminated,” she said. “We’re not going to drill a well we’re going to do repairs and well conversions.”
They will also be fulfilling a number of needs in the community, such as painting at schools, bringing medical kits to the hospital and bringing clothing such as bras to nursing women.
“That [bras] is not something they have down there,” said McKee.
The group is also collecting beanie babies to hand out to children.
While the trip will be a new experience for most of the team members, that doesn’t diminish their excitement.
“People are suffering from not having clean water and are dying and we take it for granted,” said Beth. “I want to do something about that.”
“I want to go because I like helping people and I’ve wanted to go on a missions trip for a long time,” said Victoria.
The team will be staying at a house which is “not fancy,” said McKee, but that’s part of the point.
“If you’re not stretched out of your comfort zone you might as well go on vacation,” she said. “They’re up and at it at 7 a.m. and gone all day ... there are going to be some tired puppies here.”
Water Ambassadors partners with different local organizations, which provides interpreters, transportation, etc.
The motivation behind the trip is to help people, however the team co-ordinator says in her experience it’s those who go who are most affected that experience real change.
“The youth going has created a spark in the community,” said Jennifer Casey.
Casey said those she knows who have gone come back with a totally different outlook in life.
“So we hope to help but we end up getting helped,” said Beth.
“Usually that’s what we find, the heart that’s changed isn’t theirs,” said McKee.
The group has been raising awareness about their initiative throughout the community and at HHSS.
The group needs to raise a substantial amount of funds prior to their departure, $36,000 to be exact.
In order to raise the money they are hosting a number of fundraisers, including a spaghetti dinner this Saturday at the Haliburton United Church.
Dubbed Noodles for Nicaragua, the dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. and includes a full meal. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and children and those under five are free.
Tickets can be purchased by contacting McKee at 705-754-5384 or Beth at 705-457-9498.
Take-out meals can also be arranged.