Some time ago we requested funds from de Bakkerij (the Bakery), a Church Outreach Centre in Leiden, Netherlands, for among other things educational trips for the participants of the activities club. Our participants are from relatively poor families. There is a zoo in Juigalpa which very few of us had ever visited.
This also applies to visiting a swimming pool owned by one of the restaurants in Juigalpa, or going to a park with playground equipment. Such outings are out of reach for the families of our members, especially because of the cost of transport. But we were able to organize special transport as well as cover the costs of entry fees and a lunch. So in December we visited the zoo about which we wrote before. And recently after the long holiday we went to a swimming pool.
The work of the Fundación’s Activities Club
The activities club is for adults with an intellectual disability who do not have regular daily activities. Juigalpa hardly any offers opportunities for this group, as there is only a special needs education school for people up to 18. After that there is nothing.
Nicaragua has decent laws that outline the duties but also the rights of people with intellectual disabilities, but in practice there is very little support for them. We started the Ruach Foundation three years ago to bring the rights of people with intellectual disabilities to the attention of the society, with our focus on Prevention, Stimulation and Protection.
There are nine members of the Activities Club, all of them living in different parts of Juigalpa, and otherwise locked away at home, and we offer them stimulating activities at the Centre. Working in small groups we hope to unlock their potential skills and to engage in social activities. We produce piñatas (puppets used at children’s parties), do drawing, gardening, and painting of flower pots. We sell their products at three outlets in town, with the main purpose of raising awareness among the people of Juigalpa.
We’d planned our outing for last Tuesday. There is no public swimming pool in our town, but some of the local restaurants have a pool, or even more than one pool. Almost all club members were there, accompanied by two parents, also our activities centre assistant and myself as the coordinator. It was a bit tense not knowing how everyone would take (or not take) to the water, given everybody’s lack of experience. Two members arrived without swimming trunks. For one we found a spare among the lost/left behind items at the pool. And the other was offered a pair of shorts from another member so that he could at least be sticking a bit more than just his toes in the water.
I had taken some pool floats from the Community Home which were put to good use, and we were pleasantly surprised how all of them behaved. Jonathan and Hector appreciated their floats. Graecia started off by wetting her feet, then going in further up to her midriff and finally, without being assisted, she walked around the entire pool. It was good to see how quickly they got used to the water. Halfway through the morning we stopped for a drink and a tasty snack before being dropped back home at noon.
As this was the first time, we’d chosen to keep it relatively short, but it is abundantly clear that a repeat should be on the menu, with having lunch at the pool to make it an even more special experience next time. This is a good example how we can expand our boundaries, and how together we can make the difference! We feel truly blessed.
PS The activities club closed its doors per 23 March to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. So far Nicaragua has only acknowledged 4 cases of the corona virus infection.