Kemp Klein

Kemp Klein IT Manager Geri Hames Performs Humanitarian Work in Nicaragua

I was in Nicaragua from February 29-March 8 with Amigos for Christ. They’re a Christian humanitarian organization that works in communities near Chinandega, Nicaragua, providing clean water to homes and helping local farmers bring their products to market and become Certified Organic farms. I traveled with my friend Sandy who has been on several trips to Chinandega with Amigos.

The Climb up Maderas Volcano

At the beginning of the trip, Sandy and I ran Fuego Y Agua, an ultra-trail race on the island of Ometepe with about 15 of our Amigos teammates. The island is made up of two volcanoes, Conception and Maderas. The race we ran was 28 kilometers. Parts of it were on a beach, rocky road and a significant part climbing and descending the Maderas volcano. It was 87 degrees when the race started in the morning and the temperature rose to 94 during the day. We got a little shade and slightly lower temperatures as we climbed the volcano, but it was still HOT compared to the weather we trained in here at home. We made it to about half a mile past the last checkpoint on the volcano before we decided to turn around. Quite a few other race participants turned back before we did. The last group we spoke with said the top of the volcano was all mud that required you to crawl on the rim of the crater while holding a rope so you didn’t slide off the side. It took us an hour to climb the previous mile and we had about another hour before we made it to the top. We decided we didn’t have another hour of climbing left in us. The 4.5 mile descent was every bit as hard as the climb. When we returned to the aid station where our team truck was waiting for us, we had covered 24 kilometers. I had refilled my hydration pack at the 10k mark and had no water left when we returned to the aid station. It’s a tough, tough race and not like anything I’ve ever done before or will ever do again.

We spent the rest of our trip working in La Cuncha outside Chinandega and on the Amigos Farm. All the families in the community currently get water from a contaminated well.  We broke ground on a water project that will connect homes to a clean water system about 4 miles away.  It will take about 5 months to complete with the local s doing a significant part of the work and other churches and groups helping at other times. We dug about ½ mile of trenches and laid pipes in very rocky ground. We had to chip away at it, inch by inch with pickaxes.  It was hard work in 90-97 degree temperatures! The locals who joined us were amazing. A 90 year old woman even joined us one day, working in a skirt and flip flops. That’s a pretty normal occurrence there. Everyone helps everyone else.  We also worked one day at the Amigos farm, harvesting curcumin. The root of the curcumin plant contains “fingers” of turmeric. We harvested about 300 pounds of turmeric while we were there. We also planted 3000 hot pepper plants. The peppers harvested from the plants later this year are already under contract to the Tabasco company.

It was an amazing experience with some incredible people who feel called to do a small part in making the world a better place.