Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What The #%$@? Part III.....Recurso Disponible

So one day, I’m over at the Fabretto office (other local non-profit) and this lady asks me the standard “oh, so what do YOU do here in Nicaragua” question. After answering her with my usual “oh, a little of this, a little of that…….I help here, I help there”, she says “Oh, so you’re like an AVAILABLE RESOURCE”. And with that, the name stuck. Of course it sounded much cooler in Spanish………”RECURSO DISPONIBLE”…….but regardless, it became my new title.
What does a “recurso disponible” do when he’s not getting in the way over at the medical clinic or spilling hot oil in the school cafeteria (see previous Blog entries)? Here’s a sample:

Alvaro is probably in his later 20’s, Nicaraguan, and grew up in California. He spent a number of years working on oil rigs in Texas and California before being deported a few years back. Now he’s trying to get to Canada (legally) to get a job in the booming Canadian oil economy. What did I do for him? Well, after researching the job opportunities and Visa requirements online, he asked me if I would help him with his resume. We put together a nice resume and a cover letter that he sent to Shell, BP, Esso, etc. As far as I know, he’s still in Nicaragua, so maybe he needs something more than a RD.

Another non-profit from the US has decided that they want to help Nicaraguan children in a very specific way. That is, they want to sponsor (i.e. give money to) local pre-schools. To get the ball rolling, they want to find the FIVE pre-schools in Managua that have THE MOST need. Enter Recurso Disponible. I basically just provide the “driving ability” on this one, but I, along with a local Nicaraguan teacher, drive around Managua and look at pre-schools. We get a feel for the neighborhood, we inspect the building (or lack thereof), and we chat with the teacher(s). We still have a number of schools to go, but it has been a GREAT way for me to get to know Managua…….and it’s endless amount of poverty.

Occasionally, medical groups in the area pack up a truck and head to the “country” for a day or so. The idea is to provide medical care to those who don’t have access to such a thing (or at least REGULAR access), so they set up a mobile clinic for a day or weekend. I’ve helped out with these on occasion, basically just playing “nurse”. It’s pretty basic stuff, but again, it’s a great way to get to know Nicaragua and some areas outside of Managua.

NicaHope is the organization with which I spend most of my time, and their focus is MOSTLY in education (of various forms). One of the things they do is to provide computer classes to children in the area of Acahualinca and La Chureca. By giving these kids a tool in the form of computer education, the hope is that they will use these skills to have a life OUTSIDE of the trash dump. With this in mind, someone had the idea of setting up a “Sponsorship program” for the kids in these classes (think World Vision for computer classes instead of food). I basically just helped with the initial stages of this program and the associated literature. It should be launched ASAP.

And that’s pretty much it. As a “Recurso Disponible”, I basically just act as your friendly, neighborhood volunteer, helping out wherever I can. I’ve done a bit of painting (walls….not art), I’ve given out medicine, and may even have some bicycle maintenance in my near future. I try to be open to wherever I can be of service, and generally only say NO to the teaching of English classes (a popular request)……..everyone has their boundaries, right?.......or things COMPLETELY outside my scope of knowledge (Blacksmithing, for example…..THAT was an interesting one). The good news is that I have found that I can pretty much be as busy as I want to be. The bad news? Nobody seems to be open to the Fire Dept. schedule.

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