International Development: An Immersion in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua

This spring break I ventured to Sabana Grande in Nicaragua with MIT’s Development Lab. Our mission for the week was to gather as much insight about the people, living conditions, and formulate plans for potential projects. The immersion happened through living with a host family, implementing a small project, and (lots of) walking from project site to site. We searched for how we could best help. In the end, I found new conclusions for what makes people happy, practiced my documentary photography skills, was humbled, and found a few projects I could work on for the rest of the semester.

The Solar Center where solar ovens, a biodigestor, bio-char, solar cells, and micro-irrigation systems are fabricated and implemented.
A typical view of what houses are made of and how they are decorated in the country-side of Nicaragua.
...Unfortunately couldn't bring her back with me.
Charcoal Women - "Bio-char" fabricated using carbonization (anaerobic burning) of corn stalks and husks (bio-waste)

The Good (Lo Bueno)

  • priority of family and love
  • view of life
  • the “Solar Center”
  • peoples’ closeness to religion
  • mountainous terrain/beautiful landscape
  • peoples’ knowledge of solar and alternative energy
  • kids playing baseball
  • coffee culture
  • learning to make tortillas
  • friendly smiles
  • multiple development opportunities
  • starry skies
  • Reina and Simon (my host parents’) kindness
Sun going down over the mountains.
Bottle Light - Small project implemented to improve day-time indoor lighting conditions using recycled soda bottles filled with water and bleach.

The Bad (Lo Malo)

  • smoke inhalation from cooking with firewood
  • poor indoor lighting
  • dirt/lack of cleanliness
  • being woken up by roosters…at 4am
"Chingo" the house pet painted to protect bugs from getting in his eyes.
View of the dry landscape. Illustrates how much walking is involved (and that carrying a machete is okay if its in broad daylight...and for farming.)

“Riches are only now; we will all be equal later on.” – Reina


One Comment Add yours

  1. Matthew says:

    I would like to know more about your trip to Sabana Grande, Nicaragua. I am planning a similar trip in Jan 2013. I am with George Mason University Enginer’s for International Development (GMU EfID) . We have plans on providing a water distribution system for a small village in the area. Can you share your findings?

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