Live from Lisa: A Trip to Mulukuku

Join Wisconsin/Nicaragua Wheelchair Project Director Lisa Fernandez as she travels to Mulukuku, a remote farming community in the mountains of eastern Nicaragua, for a four- day visit.

November 6th, 2004

Of the eight-hour bus ride to Mulukuku, about 45 minutes will be on paved road. The rest is either mud or dirt. I got up at 4 a.m. to shower and prepare for the trip to Mulukuku, then hopped into a taxi for the trip across town to the bus station. Of the eight-hour bus ride to Mulukuku, about 45 minutes will be on paved road. The rest is either mud or dirt. The bus trip comes complete with chickens, roosters, lots of pressing human flesh, and no restroom stops (so don't drink too much!). Moments of beauty soften the trip’s rough edges: the tenderness of a papa with his baby son, glimpses of a beautiful and exotic bird, watching a passenger give up his seat to a mother carrying a young child.

I arrived in Mulukuku hot, hungry and dirty, and made the short walk to the small compound of buildings that house Sister Sandy and the young sisters and workers who help her operate her many programs.I arrived in Mulukuku hot, hungry and dirty. These include teacher training courses, the building of two room school houses in remote areas, a preschool program, numerous health education programs,and much more. The buildings are very primitive, but the outsides are painted with beautiful murals by local artists, and the atmosphere is gentle and kind. I was warmly greeted and fed rice and beans, tortillas made from fresh ground corn, and coffee. All our meals were rice and beans and tortillas, with the addition of fresh duck or chicken on occasion. (You know meat is fresh when you just saw the chicken get its neck wrung by two little girls about an hour before dinner.) And the tortillas! They are puffy and fragrant and delicious! It was not an easy four days, but it was very rewarding and necessary.

There are desks everywhere you look! I want all of you who have helped with the Mulukuku school desk project to know that there are desks everywhere you look! In the buildings, in the streets of Mulukuku (waiting to be taken into the mountains), and in the schools, of course. The school supplies are in use all over the community. Everywhere you look, you see things Wisconsin/Nicaragua Wheelchair Project has sent, and you can be sure that every- thing will be very well used.

One day I visited a school way up in the mountains, an hour by bus, and then an hour walking through mud and fording two streams on fallen-tree "bridges".One day I visited a school way up in the mountains. Though the trip was a bit harrowing, it was worth every step. For there in the school were those cast-off desks we gathered from sheds and barns all over Wisconsin! And there were the kids sitting in them, so proud and happy. What an improvement over the dirt floor which had been their seat for so long! They were very shy at first, but then opened up and sang for us. They asked politely if we could send them baseball equipment; they have absolutely nothing in the way of sporting equipment or toys. When we were leaving the school, a boy came by on horseback, and offered me his horse to ride back out to the road. It was fun being on horseback, and it kept my shoes dry too!

You may wonder how those castoff desks arrived in such a remote community to begin their new lives. Earlier this fall, they were unloaded from the container in Managua, and transferred to cattle carts, which transported them to Mulukuku. From there, fathers of the students have been picking them up to carry by horseback to the mountain schools. The school we visited was by far the closest; many are an all day trip on horseback. But one way or another, those kids are getting their desks and supplies!

To the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Wheelchair Project, the people of Mulukuku say “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Sit down and have a toast to yourselves for your great work” [quoted from an e-mail from Sister Sandy]. This project is a HUGE success, and worth every bit of effort we've put into it.

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