To better understand the severe poverty and unspeakable living conditions Nicaraguans endure every day, a couple from California decided last June to move there and live off $2 a day like 80 percent of Nicaragua does.
That’s $2 per day for everything from food to drinks and clothing to health care and shelter.
With the average cost of a plate of food in Nicaragua at $2.50, the couple gave up after just five days, saying they could no longer keep up their energy level on the meager amount of food that much money provided. They documented the experience on a blog at lifeoutofthebox.com.
“In order for us to be as productive as we always are, we had to get more food,” the couple wrote. “It was hard to even think on the last day of the experiment and that was the final straw.”
The couple later called it a “life changing experiment.”
“Our perspective on life was completely altered once we experienced life in survival mode,” they wrote.
Yet survival mode is precisely how Nicaraguans live every day. Hunger is rampant in the country. It is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere; only Haiti has worse poverty.
Nearly 50 percent (just over 5 million people) of the population exists on just $1 a day and a third of the population still has no access to sustainable sources of drinking water.
Schroon Lake’s Clare Whitney and Elizabethtown’s Brody Hooper know first-hand how citizens of Nicaragua struggle to obtain the things so many Americans take for granted.
Working with the Plattsburgh-based North Country Mission of Hope, the two high school seniors have made it their objective to raise awareness and money to provide food, schooling and shelter to Nicaraguans.
Clare and Brody comprise the student portion of the North Country Mission of Hope leadership board. Clare has twice been to Nicaragua and plans to go again in July. Brody was there a week ago.
While there the pair helped repair facilities operated by Mission of Hope, distribute food and build modest shelters for Nicaraguans. They’ve also raised thousands of dollars to provide lunch for school-aged children — which is often their only meal of the day.
Since it costs money for Nicaraguan children to attend school, Clare and Brody also work tirelessly to raise cash so Nicaraguans can get an education. Currently, nearly a quarter of all Nicaraguan children will leave school by the first grade.
The latest fundraiser planned by Brody and Clare will take place this Sunday, March 10 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the Cobble Hill Inn Restaurant in Elizabethtown. Tickets for the spaghetti dinner are $10 a person and $30 for families of four or more people.
The dinner is sponsored by National Honor Society chapters at Schroon Lake and Elizabethtown-Lewis schools along with the Cobble Hill Inn, which is providing the spaghetti and garlic bread.
These groups and the owners of Cobble Hill Inn should be commended for the role they are playing in this worthwhile endeavor.
At the same time, we simply cannot say enough good things about these two selfless local teens and the North Country Mission of Hope which gives 97 percent of all donations directly to the Nicaraguan people.
We can think of few not-for-profit organizations that operate on less overhead.
Then, there is Clare and Brody.
As teenagers, this dynamic duo have accomplished more to help their fellow man than many Americans will in a lifetime.
Lets get behind their effort by flooding this fundraiser with people. Then, please consider taking it a step further and sponsor a Nicaraguan child. Just $140 a year — less than $12 a month — will keep a child in school and pay for necessities.
As Clare and Brody know, there is no better feeling than helping a fellow human being in need. Go to ncmissionofhope.org today and sponsor a child, or make whatever charitable donation you can.