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Nicaragua and the Impact of COVID-19

nicaragua covid 19

Here at AT THE WELL, we exist to help artisans reach a marketplace that is not easily accessible to many of them around the world. This is one of the many reasons why we launched the Purpose Project. The Purpose Project was created as a special initiative to spotlight specific artisans and causes that need our immediate help. Our friend, Mary Korch, has been instrumental in getting the first project launched and is spearheading a new endeavor to continue empowering the community dear to her heart in Nicaragua. She served as the connector between AT THE WELL and Angel and made it possible for us to sell his handmade leather journals. 

Mary was studying economics in college and discovered that business is a tool that can break the poverty mentality. She is passionate about empowering others to bless their communities with their skills. Mary lived in Granada, Nicaragua for a month of the World Race (an eleven-month, eleven country volunteer trip for young adults) and was able to return this year with Global U (a nine-month program for young adults teaching entrepreneurial, web-development, and leadership skills through experiential and cohort-based learning) where she has been able to start and connect a number of projects to impact people she loves. Through getting involved with the community, Mary met Angel, who was involved in Young Life in the slums outside of Granada. She says of her Nicaraguan friends, “I've heard the phrase ‘God gave me a heart for these people’ before, but I never really understood it until my time in Nicaragua. The Lord opened up some part of my heart that really hasn't been tapped by any other country I've visited, which has been quite a few! Especially after visiting again during Global U, a number of these locals became my friends, and I'd do anything to allow them to live a dignified life that Christ would want for them.” 

Angel has seen a significant impact on his life because of the success of the Purpose Project. He comes from a community that lives on $2 a day (sometimes less), has an unemployment rate between 37-67%, and a history of alcoholism in young men. That was before COVID happened. Many of Mary’s friends are struggling to survive. This order of journals is enough to keep his family stable for quite a few months which is a huge blessing considering all of the customers he would usually sell to can't make it in the country because of COVID.

We asked Mary to share a bit about what she is learning and what is next for her entrepreneurial ventures. Here is what she had to share with us.

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I’ve noticed that I find the most optimism in desperation-- where every option seems depleted when I’m pushing the edge of the road and there’s nothing left beyond it, or I have no plan because I can’t actually have a plan.  It’s the point where something HAS to work. I let the adrenaline pump through my veins and shake my head because it’s out of my hands at that point. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s in these times, where a rush of confidence flows through my body because I know God is about to show up. He wouldn’t turn his head from his people. He doesn’t let the injustice we fight for ravage the Earth in vain. I know my God is here guiding the battle, and I will ask him how to swing my sword. Recently, this is the feeling I’ve had toward my friends in Nicaragua. 

To put this into perspective, the economy in Granada, Nicaragua has an average unemployment rate double that of America during the peak of the Great Depression. And that’s before COVID hit. 

In a place like Granada Nicaragua, you have a choice. You can visit the beach and escape seeing most of the poverty. You could guard your heart from the homes that are made of scraps of metal rustier than your Grandma’s 100-year-old shed roof. You can sink into a hole of emptiness when you see sewage draining in the streets. Or, you can befriend the beautiful people there, and do what you can to learn from, fight for, and see God in their community.  

Out of these options, I’ve chosen the latter. 

Over the two and a half months I’ve lived in Nicaragua, I’ve rarely been asked for money or items, only for prayers of health and work. One of my favorite ministries I’ve ever done is house visits in the Granada community. We spend time getting to know about our neighbors and we pray for them. Family upon family that I’ve visited asked us to pray for work— for an opportunity to bless their communities with their skills and in return earn a living to support their family. I spent the whole time asking God how he could use me to be an answer to the prayers of my friends. 

I see God in the way my friends look out for the children in the community.

I see God in their energy and enthusiasm.

I see God in the way they love and appreciate simple things.

I see God in the kindness in their eyes. 

I see God in the way they fight for their families. 

I see God in the dreams they tell me about.

I don’t know what Gods doing, exactly. But I do know he’s with me, and with my friends across the world. All I can do is pray that God opens up opportunities for us to partner together in the creation of dignified job opportunities. It might be crunch time, but I’m not scared, I’m expectant for what God has in store.

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With that being said, Many of my Nicaraguan friends are bright students who have to fight for survival everyday living in the 2nd worst economy (only second to Haiti) in the Western Hemisphere. You can read more about the community here.

Most of my friends worked as translators, in learning centers, or in tourism-related jobs until COVID-19. Unfortunately, with the pandemic and closing of international travel, many of my friends who were barely able to make ends meet before, are left without any jobs. They fear their families won’t be able to afford electricity or rice and beans and continually ask for prayer in finding work.

We, as a Global U community, brainstormed ways to help and have decided to start a conversational Spanish learning/tutoring program! Participants will be paired with one of the Nicaraguan friends, who recently lost their job, in order to practice and learn conversational Central American Spanish.

Here are the details of the program: 

  • Beta Tester price: $6/30 minutes. $3 goes directly to your tutor. $1 goes to payment processing. $2 goes to a scholarship fund for Nicaraguan students. Payments are directly made to me, Mary Korch, who will wire it to Nicaragua.
  • Classes will be held over Zoom.
  • You have control over your schedule and the number of sessions you would like per week/month. This information will be communicated through me for logistics purposes. I will also be the one to introduce you to your Spanish-speaking friend!

During my time in Nicaragua, my skills dramatically increased by hanging out with the locals during the month. I’m excited about this opportunity for people to make progress toward their language goals, develop relationships with people in a different culture, and create jobs for those who are really in need of them!

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AT THE WELL is excited for the opportunity to share what Mary Korch and her Global U community are doing for the people that have impacted them. This is not a Purpose Project. AT THE WELL will not be benefiting financially from this in any way. We simply want to do our part in sharing the platform that we have been blessed with to empower others in their goals. 

If you are interested in learning more or would like to get started with your Spanish tutoring, email mary@theglobalu.org

Shop products made in Nicaragua here.
Shop products handmade by artisans impacted by COVID-19 here.

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