HOLA: Nicaragua Outreach
By Kasia Broussalian
It was Day One. Jammed into the front seat, bumping along a broken Nicaraguan highway at breakneck speeds, I miserably watched my duffle bag, with two weeks’ worth of clothes and camping gear, fall off the truck, and plummet down the mountain, never to be seen again.
I think life is at its best when throwing curveballs—forcing each of us into an intricate dance in an attempt to avoid the pitfalls and unknowns. Those experiences, however, contribute to our life stories.
During my senior year at the University of Colorado, I became involved in an on-campus organization, the Health Outreach for Latin America (HOLA) Foundation. Every year, participating students collected thousands of dollars’ worth of supplies, and carried them, along with their blossoming medical skills down to the struggling villages on the North Pacific coast of Nicaragua.
I found myself, a journalism student, in Nicaragua, thrown into a mix of future candidates for Doctors Without Borders. I was there because of my skill with a camera, my knack for embracing everything outside my comfort zone, and my recent obsession with water issues. HOLA had started a program that caught my attention for its innovative way of using scarce funds and passionate volunteers to make a real difference around the small town of Chacraseca. HOLA focused on one glaring issue in a isolated villages: the lack of available clean water. The goal was to spend two weeks building a system of pipes to transport clean water into the villages, as well as offering each village some classes on the importance of clean water.
After 11 years of hard work from volunteers, and aid from JustHope Partners and other Solidarity Groups, every sector surrounding Chacraseca has clean drinking water. Over 1500 families now have a small pipe near their homes that supplies clean water for a few hours a day. My work with the HOLA foundation still remains a life altering experience for me.
As for my lack of clothes and gear, I can’t say I looked nor smell my best, for those two weeks. All in all, though, I really think it enhanced the adventure. I’m a little bit rough and rugged, if you ask me.
About the author: Kasia Broussalian is a Public Affairs intern for EPA Region 2. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree at New York University, and has been with the agency since 2010.
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