Recently I was able to talk with a former visitor to the operations of ERSLA in Nicaragua, Aaron Clark. He is a Paramedic and lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina.
Aaron mentioned that he “got a pretty good feel as to how Nicaragua is as a country” while volunteering for ERSLA. He recounted a visit to a cigar factory worker’s home where he listened to her riveting stories of the revolution and the intense political shift she encountered when she was younger. Aaron had come to Nicaragua to get an understanding of how ERSLA functions after being inspired by an article on Facebook about “How to get involved during spring break.” He felt he wanted to see both the country and the organization first hand.
During his visit Aaron was able to visit three cities in Northern Nicaragua- Ocotal, Somoto and Condega. He mentioned that his visit was very hands on. “It felt great to be able to observe with boots on the ground and really understand how the projects are moving forward.” The intent of his visit was to collect data on what Firefighters in Nicaragua needed. He achieved this by visiting stations and observing rope and knot training programs. Aaron then returned to the United States to complete a paramedic degree. It was after his return that he was able to see the stark contrast between the infrastructure and training of firefighters in the United States and those in Nicaragua. “It was humbling to say the very least.” Through this lens, he became more involved in ERSLA by becoming a member of the board of directors. He hopes to promote future ERSLA projects at universities and similar institutions. Aaron expressed that he has always had a soft spot for Latin America which helps with the mission of ERSLA and their approach towards sustainable development.
The call ended with Aaron reciting a defining moment of his time with ERSLA during the last few days in Nicaragua. He had returned to Somoto to take a photo with the Firefighters he had met during a rope training course in a nearby canyon just days before. Two Firefighters came out with smiles on their faces. He said “alright let’s see your ropes and knots.” For Aaron it was impactful to see them pull small ropes out of their back pockets to demonstrate the knots he had shown them just days before. “I speak very little Spanish still, and it was really bad when I was there. But through the desire to help [the firefighters] and their desire to learn, language barriers come down pretty easily” he said.
Aaron Clark plans on being a part of ERLSA for a long time to come.
We welcome volunteers and interns from all backgrounds as long as they hold a passion for making positive change and can jump on board with our projects to save lives and improve communities. You can visit Nicaragua like Aaron and not only teach but be taught. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can answer any questions or queries you may have on how you can attempt such a visit with ERSLA.