Photo Essay 2014

Rachel Beiker


Discovery of Myself through Nicaragua

Over winter break, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with a group of Washburn students to the third world country Nicaragua. I have been calling it a service trip, but I do not believe that is an accurate description of what I saw, learned, and felt. As a group, we stayed in a house in Managua owned by ProNica, an American organization that coordinated our trip. The first change we had to adapt to was remembering not to flush the toilet paper down the toilet. Their pipes could not handle the paper and clogged easily.

This adventure began with a history lesson on the Nicaragua wars and dictator like rulers for most of the 20th century. We had the chance to see the destroyed palace with two levels of prisons and a secret prison only minutes away.  In both locations, supposed political prisoners were held against their will and tortured for information, there are an unknown number of people killed during the thirty years of dictatorship.

 In my Nicaraguan history lesson, I learned how involved our country was in these unfortunate events and how they supplied the weapons used in killing young soldiers fighting for their freedom. We heard a personal account from a Nicaraguan woman who lost her son at fourteen years old; he was decapitated and mangled by American soldiers. The courage she had to fight after his death, form a museum full of pictures of the lives lost during war from the community around her, and sharing her story to groups similar to our own but sadly not as often to schools in Nicaragua.

For four days, we lived in the homes of a small village where we fixed up their community center. Two girls and I, none of us spoke Spanish well, lived in the home of an immediate family of four, mother, father, son a veterinarian, and daughter a pharmacy student.  I learned how important family was even if it meant sacrificing money for their children to go to school, expensive food, or living conditions that are not ideal for most. At the end of my stay there, I still could not speak Spanish, but I felt like I had been accepted as an extended member of their family. But their niece stayed there during the day and a nephew who they considered their own son also could be found here.

Our trip ended on a great note, a trip to a girls and boys home for children abused, homeless, or addicted to shoe glue. The children grabbed hold of us, showing us around their homes, playing soccer, or even a tickle fight which is what happened to me. Their stories broke my heart, but their spirits made me want to take them all home with me. By the last day of my trip, I knew that would be back to a country like this one, but next time I would be there to help as Physician.


The view some prisoner had while in the secret government prison.

The inspiring people who fought for Nicaraguan freedom in the museum created by the woman who lost her son in the battle.

The house we stayed at in the small village, El Limon.

Our group after we finished cleaning up El Limon’s community center

The cross on top of a volcano, a peaceful view but can erupt at any time like the country of Nicaragua.

Jenna Frick (left) and myself (right) while in Nicaragua.