May 2014 was a fact finding trip. We had an epiphany today about the importance of agricultural projects and the research gathered on the most recent trip made it apparent we could and certainly should do more than distribute baseball equipment to rural poverty stricken communities. Our contacts and partners and friends we had made in Nicaragua through baseball made it possible to do much more.
''Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't,
then you are wasting your time on Earth.'' Roberto Clemente
Baseball supply wasn’t enough to continue with the work to Nicaragua. We wanted to add gravitas, something real that could make a difference in to the people’s lives in Nicaragua.
We had a choice to simply continue to do equipment supply and build a network or use the inroads within the local government and charitable organizations to truly make a difference to the poor in those rural communities. We couldn’t see setting up giant networks for baseball without helping people.
With that in mind we expanded the expertise at Helping Kids Round First when I came on on board full time and with the addition of Scott Ramsdell, a local agronomist who had experience traveling in Central America, and with much help from Bill Nibbelink and Bill Ellingson. We decided to travel through Nicaragua to see what could be done, it was quickly understood that we had to start small. Scott was interested in helping the communities develop food sustainability. We researched the possibility of developing an agricultural program called 1 egg.com – found in Uganda Rwanda, and Haiti. Scott Ramsdell and I were very interested in the 1 egg project, with the possibility to raise enough eggs to promote brain development in children and have a few extra eggs left over for families to sell.
From May through mid-August we toured the underbelly of Nicaragua . We met with the missionary and Luis and got taken from family after family saw women cooking with ancient smoky wood burning stoves that made them ill and how stoves with advanced technology and heat efficiency using 7 boughs vs 2 could change lives. Simple things like building a latrine was a new concept to some of these communities.
It became very apparent in this hot, dry August, what we were going to do. Wells were at a premium in this draught plagued countryside. Seed banks for sustainable agricultural purposes were struggling and dependent on doubling your seed in order to have a crop the next year. Simple clinics on techniques for well drilling, as well as culturally appropriate modern farming techniques would make a big difference in these communities.
We met with family after family trying to find out what we could do with the connections we had made through baseball. Once that was established things and people started to get interested. Next thing you know we take a trip to Nicaragua to meet church people and to primarily set up chicken farms. It didn’t take long to figure out that chickens were not going to last very long when the people themselves didn’t have enough to eat. It wasn’t going to work.
Timing is everything and while we were there we were introduced to an agricultural project sponsored by the Nicaraguan Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Bavarian Church and a Rapid City Lutheran Church involving solar panels and irrigation systems. No solar panels had been built yet they were still in planning stage. We were introduced to the irrigation project right in the middle
Scott's training has an agronomist has continued to provide new opportunities. We started with educational clinics on Nicaraguan agriculture and how you effect yields and sustainability. It was now Novemeber 14, 2014 the building blocks for “more than baseball” were in place and now people are buying in.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!