Below is the story of how our incredible non-profit partner, the 4 Walls Project, came to be. Thanks to Meghan Haslam's awesome efforts as a Peace Corp member in 2006, Nicaraguan families living in poverty now have someone to look to for help. Together we will alleviate poverty for those who need the aid. Here's Meghan's story:
Why I was inspired
My name is Meghan Haslam. I came to El Sauce, Nicaragua in November of 2006 as an Environmental Education Peace Corps Volunteer. The inspiration for the 4 Walls Project stems from an encounter with a young man named Juan Pablo who grew up moving from one house to another. When he was in his teens, a nun who had been his teacher donated Juan Pablo a small piece of land. He and his brother built a house of adobe bricks on the land, but they only had enough adobe to build the walls halfway up. They requested some plastic sheeting from the mayor’s office, but to no avail. So the family made do with what they could find: cardboard, scrap metal, plastic, etc. It wasn’t a comfortable place, Juan Pablo told me, but it was still their own. They continued to petition the local government for help, but were refused. Then one night about two years ago a powerful storm roared through El Sauce and one of the walls collapsed. Juan Pablo and his family were grateful to survive, but could only cover the space with a plastic sheet. Due to their hand-to-mouth lifestyle, the wall has been plastic ever since. Although Juan Pablo and I were good friends, he, unlike other Nicaraguans, did not invite me to his home. The people of Nicaragua are proud of their homes; even the poorest will share whatever they have. After asking many times where he lived, and receiving a vague wave to the east, Juan Pablo finally took me to his house. He told me he was worried he would lose a friendship because of the poor condition of his family’s home. I asked other friends of his if they’d been there; most said no. After this, I discovered a similar situation with some of my young students – third and fourth graders who were embarrassed to show their teacher where they lived. In addition, the utility companies are reluctant to provide services to people with these unstable houses. Every person, young or old, deserves a sturdy home with four walls, a roof, running water and electricity to shelter and to provide them with a basic foundation for life. The 4 Walls Project is my answer to the lack of this simple need.