Helping people is something I try to do every day. Whether it be carrying someone’s groceries, helping a fellow student with classwork, or helping a teacher run errands, I make a point to put someone else before myself every day. Although I think it is equally important to do little acts of kindness every day, I have also had larger experiences where I have been able to impact someone’s life more drastically. My most notable experience with helping others was my humanitarian aid trip to Nicaragua during Spring Break of 2015. For the trip, I spent numerous hours preparing, provided greatly needed commodities, and provided love, support, and care to people who were in desperate need.
Preparation for the trip was absolutely necessary if my team and I wanted to help the people of Nicaragua in any way. Because mission trips are not cheap, I had to spend months fundraising, earning money for my flight and to buy materials to give away. In addition to earning money, my team and I spent weeks collecting materials from anyone we knew, as well as buying things to take with us. I collected shoes, toiletries, clothes, toys, school supplies, candy, and other things for people of all different ages. After we had spent weeks collecting items, we had to organize and pack them. We spent hours packing bags of toiletries, organizing the items based on age and gender, packing candy, and trying to fit all that we could into the suitcases we would be taking with us. Although it was a lot of work, it was motivating to know how much the items we were collecting and packing would help the people we would be giving them to.
Once my team and I arrived in Nicaragua, we were ready to give out the items we spent hours preparing. It was shocking how devastating the situation is in Nicaragua. We visited people living and working in dumps, orphanages, schools, very poor villages, and many more places. Everywhere we went, we gave families boxes of rice packed with soy and other proteins that would last them at least a couple weeks. We also gave out fresh water, shoes, clothes, toys, and all the other things we had previously prepared to the people who desperately needed them. It was overwhelmingly rewarding to see how much a juice box and a pair of shoes could light up a child’s face. Although I knew giving them these items and food would not fix their problem and bring them out of poverty, it was reassuring to know those people would have food for the next week or so, would have clothes to wear, and shoes on their feet.
Although bringing these people food and other items greatly helped them for a short period of time, the love and support we gave to the people of Nicaragua is what would have a lasting impact of their lives. After we gave out food, water, and everything else, we spent time with the people in the dump, in the orphanages, and in the villages. We sang songs, prayed, and fellowshipped with everyone we came across that week. It was heartbreaking to hear the people say that they felt unimportant, uncared about, and that they felt they did not deserve God’s love because they were so devastatingly poor. My favorite part of the trip was being able to tell people that they were important, they were just as important as us, we cared about them, God cared about them, and God loved them just as equally as he loved us. We were able to pray over people who were crying at the news that God loved them just the same. This time of fellowship and words of encouragement would not fill their bellies, it would not end the cycle of poverty, but I truly believe we gave them something intangible that would impact them for much longer than any box of food we could give them would.
I am well aware that my efforts alone will not fix the vast poverty that devastates our world. However, with continued efforts from multiple people, we can better the lives of so many people in need. I am incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the hearts of the people in Nicaragua. I cannot wait to return so I can continue to positively impact as many people as I can.