All posts by Henrietta Still

Will you use a special skill to make a difference in Nicaragua this year? Aaron Clark did.

AARON

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 info@ersla.org. We can answer any questions or queries you may have on how you can attempt such a visit with ERSLA.

A study abroad experience, by Jonathan Steppe

My experience with ERSLA’s study abroad program was extremely positive. Before coming to Nicaragua, I had no idea what to expect, but my time with ERLSA opened my eyes to new ways of looking at the world, and gave me an appreciation for a culture quite different from my own. The country and its people are truly beautiful, and it is hard to find words to express how the experience changed me.

Study abroad experiences can enrich students’ education in way that traditional learning strategies cannot. Students learn to appreciate other cultures, and in turn, begin to better understand their own. They gain an appreciation for diversity which prepares them to interact in an increasingly global environment. Perhaps most importantly, they develop an empathy for humankind that drives them to become active contributors to the worldwide community.

Jonathan Steppe

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Are you a student interested in an internship or a study abroad program? If so, ERSLA works alongside you and your university to create a program of learning, relevant to specific studies. Find out more about projects, and if a study abroad experience can open your eyes to new ways of looking at the world by clicking here.

Fire Departments from San Francisco and Bend, Oregon, will be arriving in Nicaragua

The San Francisco Fire Department and Firefighters from Bend, Oregon, will be joining ERSLA in the coming weeks to conduct essential firefighting training in several fire stations in Northern Nicaragua.

During the visit, they will be conducting swift water training and exercises with local firefighters.This training is vital here in Nicaragua where tropical storms, flooding and other disasters often occur. The fire stations in Nicaragua have limited resources and knowledge of various rescue operations.

The swift water rescue training course will be a joint effort of the ERSLA staff, Bend firefighters and San Francisco firefighters volunteering their time. The Nicaraguans will be trained in how to use ropes, water safety and rescue, and specifically in working during white water conditions. The rainy season in Nicaragua lasts from May through November and often produces extremely heavy rainfalls in a short period of time. It is essential that these firefighters be able to rescue persons in these precarious conditions.

We are excited for the arrival of these firefighters who will be volunteering their expertise and working alongside firefighters in the North of Nicaragua, we will be keeping you up to date via our facebook, instagram, and twitter. Follow us and we will keep you up to date with all the photos and information from their trip!!

Get to know us: ERSLA’s Henrietta

On special days we get to say THANK YOU to people who make up the ERSLA team, along with all our fab donors and supporters. Today is the birthday of our Public Relations Coordinator, Henrietta Still. What she is most excited about in her coming year? Find out below.

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What’s best about working at ERSLA?

Every day something new is being talked about in the office or I am meeting someone creative and interesting whether it be a local volunteer or donors in the States.Talking to Teresa, the project coordinator, about upcoming projects and visiting groups and how their trips can be made even more amazing. I am always excited to visit communities or fire stations and continue the progress that ERSLA works hard to achieve every day. I take snapshots and video and edit these in the office whilst listening to our director Rodney’s “eclectic taste?” music.

What are you looking forward to most in this new year, one year older?

We have water filter projects planned at the beginning of the year and it will be my first time going into the communities and watching the firefighters and the ERSLA team teach the effectiveness of water filters. Also we are going to be getting fit with the firefighters in a new firefighter training program (if we can survive it). It’s going to be an exciting year full of growth and joy. Bring it on!