Editor’s note: This is a follow-up to Dave Campbell’s previous post: “Lacrosse The Nations: La Chureca, Nicaragua.” The LtN team returned from a successful trip to Nicaragua last week. Below is his recap of the trip from Dave’s perspective.
Daniel’s pickup truck reaches the top of the hill, behind us stands the city of Managua and before us are endless mountains of trash. Dust from the single dirt road that enters the dump wisps into the air and mixes with the grey smoke of burning trash. It masks the view of the distant volcanic peaks that surround Lake Nicaragua. The unforgettable smell of this place fills the car and brings back an onslaught of emotions, memories, thoughts, and questions.
It seems that La Chureca not changed since I left in January; the place is just as troubled, confounding, and bleak as I remember.
We travel down the familiar road that forks at Fabiola’s house. Turn right and you go to the center of the dump — a place where hundreds of people, children and seniors alike, work from sunrise to sunset. There they fend off relentless smoke, flies, heat, and dust while picking through tons of garbage for anything that is salvageable or recyclable. We bear left, passing by numerous houses that have been built from any semi-durable material: old signs, scrap metal, wood, mattress springs, tarps, and cardboard. We reach the school, park in front of its metal gate, and get out of the truck.
“Pelo Loco! Pelo Loco!” Orlando screams as he comes sprinting down the road and jumps into Brett’s (AKA Pelo Loco) arms. Moments later Anthony joins the group, carrying a lacrosse stick that was left with him in January. A few minutes pass and I see Laura walking down the road hand-in-hand with Merlon. I pick him up, he smiles and starts to chant, “Ola, ola, la-crosse! Ola, ola, la-crosse!”
Clearly, La Chureca has changed.
Lacrosse the Nations recently returned from its second trip to Nicaragua. Our small group used its time to work with the kids and families in La Chureca, visit with local organizations who might become future partners, and formulate plans for the development of Lacrosse the Nations.
The kids in La Chureca have such energy and excitement for lacrosse. Dozens of children joined us on the field, listened to instruction, and worked at improving their skills. The field may seem chaotic, but so much learning is taking place. Passing happens in multiple forms: in a circle, with a partner, on their own, or in a game that seems to resemble “500”. Some kids prefer to shoot on the goal: lining up, taking turns, and chasing errant shots. A cluster of kids chase a ground ball. And a few simply hold a stick and observe. The greatest part are the smiles and the laughter.
It is bittersweet, however, because these kids who are in a moment of joy — laughing, running, teasing — are playing on a field that is surrounded by piles of trash. Their bare feet stamp across the dusty field, avoiding broken glass, mud, and thorns. They spend their life inside a trash dump.
And therein lies the challenge to Lacrosse the Nations. We strive to reach out to these children, using lacrosse and our community of athletes to help them counteract the negatives that are inherent in their lives. On this recent trip we were fortunate to connect with several local community groups and non-profits that have a presence in La Chureca, Managua, and Nicaragua that will allow our influence be felt in the future.
Coming back to the States the LtN team all returned to their respective homes — California, Colorado, Ohio, and Vermont — but we went back with a uniform energy, focus, and determination to bring good to troubled communities. Two of our primary, short-term goals are to raise the awareness of Lacrosse the Nations and increase our fundraising.
While we brainstorm and work to develop the organization, we have been contacted by numerous high school and college teams, coaches, and fans who believe in our cause and want to work locally to support Lacrosse the Nations. We could not be more appreciative because we know that this is just the beginning and our success will be determined by the unified efforts of the lacrosse community.
For a full gallery of photos from our trip, check them out on our Facebook page.
For more information see our website: http://www.lacrossethenations.org