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Water Ambassadors reflect on humanitarian efforts in Nicaragua

By Angelica Ingram

Sticks of glue pairs of scissors and other craft materials are splattered across a dining room table.
A buzz of activity fills the room as a group of teenagers work on a project simultaneously.

No it’s not an after-school study group that has assembled but rather a team of high school students who travelled to Nicaragua together this past February working on bringing clean water to residents.

The group was made up of 12 people seven of them students at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School and the trip was organized by Water Ambassadors Canada a not-for-profit charity.

For many on the team the trip was life changing as they got to experience a new culture and a different way of living.

“I want to go again; it was amazing” said Victoria Archibald. “It was so different than what I expected. You always hear about those kind of trips but going and experiencing it was really different.”

Victoria said it was more difficult than she imagined as she got emotionally attached to those she met in Nicaragua.

For the majority of the team this trip was the first humanitarian effort they had ever been a part of.

Going to a developing nation was eye-opening as they witnessed people who have much less than the average North American but are more happy overall.

“The word I kept using was humbling” said Beth Archibald. “Because they have a lot less than we do but they’re joyful they’re thankful.”

The group went to a town called Matagalpa and visited a local hospital where they handed out health kits and beanie babies.

Seeing the hospital patients was an emotional and overwhelming experience as the health-care system is not comparable to ours said Beth who works in the local hospital.

Playing with the children was a moment that many of the team like Cole Finley will never forget.

“It’s a life changing experience” he said.

Some of the challenges including working in the extreme heat dealing with the language barrier and the long days.

The scissors and glue sticks scattered on the table are part of a thank-you effort the team is currently undertaking to ensure all of the groups and individuals who helped make their trip happen are recognized.

Each team member is personally writing out a note of thanks and appreciation for the sponsors which is complete with photos from the experience.

They were each responsible for raising $3000 to cover their costs which was done through fundraising dinners bottle drives yard sales and more.

And not all the help came in the form of money as some local businesses and individuals donated supplies such as sandpaper bras or ziploc bags.

“It was crazy how the whole community pitched in” said team leader Brenda McKee.

A large portion of the funds went towards the water efforts in Nicaragua which included drilling wells handing out hygiene kits and more.

The team’s work resulted in 1500 people (and generations to come) now having access to clean drinking water said McKee.

Since being back many have inquired about getting involved in the next trip particularly teenagers said McKee.

A lot of the team members hope to partake in another similar experience in the future.

“When I was down there this girl kept texting me saying how inspired she was” said Kiana Lavergne.

Many of the adults on the team were impressed by the dedication and drive exhibited by the youth who didn’t shy away from anything said Paul Graham.

“It was definitely a perfect example of team work” said McKee.