Lila and Amy visit Ometepe island on their last day in Nicaragua
On the last day, Amy West and Lila Tocci were in Nicaragua they traveled with BWAB staff and dental volunteers to the island of Ometepe, where Erlin, one of the local Directors of BWAB Nicaragua, lives with his wife and son. Last December to honor several industry partners, Tocci donated scholarships to several students on the island.
In a two and half hour ride to the Ometepe ferry, we left the urban for the rural and drove along brown fields separated by wire and tree limb fencing interspersed with green crops—livestock fodder irrigated from Lake Nicaragua. Horses loose in the median foraged for anything edible.
We bought tickets for the ferry across the Lake. A tax was collected onboard. We approached Ometepe and the volcano loomed larger.
People and vehicles surged forward under the hot sun anxious to be on their way. We loaded into our van and drove to the other side of the island to meet the Ometepe leaders who through a translator, told their story. The island’s crops were devastated first by drought, then by flooding. With no income, parents despaired from being unable to provide an education for their children. Pouring out his heart in prayer, Erlin’s father heard, “Get them ready.”
Shortly afterward, they heard Jamie Johnson (BWAB Exec. Dir) was in Costa Rica and invited him to come and hear their story. To their humble requests for scholarship aid, he said, “I don’t have the money, but I will ask those who do and return with an answer.”
The answer was yes and the original donor was Intel. Erlin, one of the first BWAB scholarship recipients, graduated from the National Autonomous University at Managua with a degree in law. He splits his meager salary with Esmerelda in order for the work of BWAB to continue both on the island of Ometepe and the barrio near the University of Managua.
Since the first scholarships were donated, BWAB continues to seek money to educate students (tuition is state-sponsored, but books, food, and housing are each student’s responsibility.