Brandon Gast, a Portland State University International Studies student, shares his experiences on a PSU Capstone trip to Nicaragua.
For our first day in the field we visited the village of El Roblar. We were able to take a look at past projects including a micro-hydro electricity generator, which provided power to an estimated 200 residents. We saw first hand the positive results of work done by the NGOs AsoFenix and Green Empowerment. The highlight for me was being able to spend the night in the house of one of the locals.
“ My wake up call this morning was Juan Antonio bringing his calf through the ‘living room’ out to the calf’s mother at 4am. You don’t see that every day.”
The bulk of our work was carried out in the villages of Bramadero and El Jocote. These villages are located in the dry highlands in central Nicaragua so the emphasis of most of the projects is definitely on water conservation. In fact, right before we arrived in the area, AsoFenix had had to drop down the pump for their solar water pump in Bramadero in order to reach the water level. The rainy season had been much drier than expected unfortunately which served as a stark reminder of the gravity of our work.
Our primary purpose for being there was to test water and soil samples to gather baseline data for future projects. We also installed two weather stations to monitor the day-to-day conditions for the two villages. Nobody has collected this kind of information before in this area so hopefully our work will go a long way to better understanding what is needed to help in these poor rural areas. We’re just laying the foundation — others will need to follow in our footsteps to continue the work.