It's finally time to share the life-shifting experience I had in April. I hope with this post that I help inspire you to stand up for the people and topics you are passionate about and to put yourself out there to a community that resonates with you.
Life changing: what does that even mean? I feel like I live a balanced life, I am good to myself and those around me, so what's there to change? For me, it was an understanding that my impact can be bigger; that there is so much more I can change to be better to the earth and to other humans. It was understanding that ignorance is passed down and instead of judging those without understanding, I can kindly educate them. It was being free to be my true self around people I didn't know without someone there to help define me.
I entered in 109's social media challenge back in December, hoping to make some active changes in my own life. I had no expectations, I just wanted to hold myself accountable and possibly inspire others. On Christmas day I found out that I was the chosen one! That's what happens when you put yourself out there in an authentic way; people respond.
I set no expectations for the journey, which is very rare for me. I typically have a plan, an idea of what's to come. I knew that in order to experience the trip in the exact way it was meant to be, I needed to stay away from travel websites, advice forums on Nicaragua, anything that allowed me to control what would happen. Guess what the result was? The most freeing travel I have ever accomplished.
What you need to know:
109 world is a non-profit founded by three friends on a mission to make the world a WAY better place. Go to 109world.com for more information.
109 world created a working relationship with an eco-resort in Nicaragua who made connections for us to enter the village of Playa Gigante and help bring running water into the homes of 1000 people.
April 7th hit and I was off to Central America. After settling into our eco-resort at the beautiful Aqua Wellness retreat, reading through the itinerary and sifting through the awesome welcome bags from BUDDHIBOX we all came together for a happy hour on the ocean. My fears subsided as I greeted new faces who had the same eager vibe. We were all in the same place at the same time to help other people. Is there anything more magical? Probably not.
Dig, dig, dig. That is what we signed up for and that is what we did. We showed up to the village of Playa Gigante with shovels, picks, and a good attitude and dug until we could dig no more. We inspired the community so much that they came out in theirSunday best, ready to get dirty with us. It's hard to explain what happened among all of us over the course of that week. Where we were from didn't matter. What color our skin was didn't matter. What language we spoke didn't matter. The only important factor was water. They needed it and we were there to help them get it.
Hey, it wasn't all hard work, between the digging there was:
- ocean swimming
- friendship building
- rum drinking
- yoga practicing
- bungalow/village hanging
- trash collecting (actually really hard work as well)
Well rounded? Yea, you could say that. We did it all and loved every second.
Questions I have heard often after going to Nicaragua... "Were you able to finish the project?" "Were you wanted there?" The short answers are yes, and yes.
The long answers:
We finished what we set out to do. We dug trenches for pipe that connected to the local well. There is still more to do and that is why we partnered with Aqua Wellness to ensure that the remainder of the work will be done - faucets will be flowing water into the residents' houses and they will not have to use their time collecting water.
An overwhelming feeling I had throughout this trip was that as much as I was accomplishing, it felt like it wasn't enough. As we explored and got to know the community we realized they needed so much more. We spent time cleaning up trash because Nicaragua receives a lot of the world's trash and does not have the capacity to dispose of their own and we also went to a local school who was in desperate need of supplies for the children. When going on a social mission trip, you have to remember that you aren't going to get there and solve all of their problems. By focusing on one task, you are helping a larger effort which is to make their lives better. It will become a beautiful trickle effect which inspires people to take charge of their own well being.
If you are finding yourself in a situation where a trip like this is not in your near future, do not fret. People need help everywhere so start there. A local food bank, school, animal shelter, elderly home, you can make an impact in your own digs. Also remember the power of fundraising! What are you good at? Offer it as a donation based service, you will be surprised at how many people want to help with this cause and for you to get out there to make a difference.
To the amazing people I met through 109 world, thank you. Thank you for accepting me, encouraging me, friending me in the most generous way. You and your impact will be forever on my mind. Let's do it again?
Thanks for the read; now start saving your pennies for a trip with 109 world. You owe it to yourself.