Building What the Government Can’t in Nicaragua

After twelve days of swinging the pickax and pounding rocks, we paused and looked up to see that we had carved a twelve-foot high wall of rock out of the mountain and created a level spot that was big enough to begin digging the foundation. We celebrated, took some pictures and then got right back to work. We were now eleven days behind on a twelve-week build schedule.

The next day, we had to gather the American students and begin our journey home so they could get back to school themselves. The most difficult part of this experience was not swinging the pickax or even pounding rocks in the 90 degree heat. The hardest thing we had to do, by far, was to say goodbye to the community and wonder if they would be able to complete the project without us. Our team of skilled labor would stay behind and we had delivered all the cement and rebar needed to build the school—but did the community still have the will to finish the project and build that school? I was deeply concerned. Jose Alberto must have sensed it and pulled me aside to say,

“For seventeen years we have petitioned our government to build a school. For seventeen years they have promised they would. And for seventeen years, they have lied. We will never give up on this project.”

After I stepped out of the truck in Las Trojas last week to greet Jose Alberto and Osmar in the gathering dusk, I looked further down the mountain and could see the roof of the completed school. Though this was the first time I had seen the school, I already knew they had been able to complete the project. I also knew they did not build it in twelve weeks. They went from eleven days behind to finishing the project nine days ahead of schedule!

Then I looked over at Jose and Osmar for a long moment. We all smiled and embraced. It was good to be back and even better to renew a very deep friendship.