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hannah's picture

I could hear the patter of bare feet on the dirt and the shouts of children and the splash that means puddles to clean up afterwards. And I recognized all those sounds.

It was the place I was in that made the difference.

The corrugated-tin fence, latched with a rusty wire, swung open to deliver me into La Casa de Keren, a small magenta-coloured house with a colorful hammock, a dirt yard, and a small herd of screaming children. The aforesaid Keren came out to greet me, smiling, and in a jumbled assortment of words -- some of them Spanish, some of them probably not -- I told her that I was the new volunteer here, that I would be here for the morning, and that I was pleased to meet her. She clapped her hands and proceeded to show me around the house. It didn't take long. The house was two rooms, each about the size of a small BMC single, and consisted of a bedroom and a small front room with a kitchen and a bucket of water to wash the dishes. The outhouse was a hole in the ground on the far side of the yard, and strung from it to the house were several strings of barbed wire for drying clothes.

I was struck, both by the poverty of the house and by the pride in which Keren took in displaying it. In the US, this house wouldn't be considered livable. The roof wasn't connected to the walls, and there was no water or electricity. And yet this was life in Nicaragua.

It reminded me in an odd way of the school in which I volunteered at home. There, the parents of each child paid more than what I pay for BMC tuition every year -- the teachers are carefully trained, the school is constantly being renovated and updated. But there, too, children run and puddles are splashed and there is the sound of laughter in the air.

And I realized that maybe life wasn't so different here than it was in the US, after all. Or at least, if it was, people were the same all around.