Sunday, May 6, 2007

Omotepe and Casa Santiago

Concepcion is on the left, Madera on the right and much further away

The main campus for the kids here is on the island of Omotepe, and called Casa Santiago. The island is in Lake Nicaragua and made up of two volcanoes, Madera and Concepcion. Concepcion is the reason I’m here. The day the picture above was taken was the only time I have seen the top of the volcano. It is shrouded in clouds frequently enough that the climate at the top is technically cloud forest, not rain forest, cloud forest.

Apparently, Concepcion acts up every 50 years or so and recently resumed that pattern. I’m not entirely sure what the thought process was when it was decided that the orphanage was to be on the island. Actually, I’ve heard a lot about what it was, but I’m just not sure how I could put it in less than a small report.

People have lived on the island for hundreds of years and just put up with the occasional blankets of ashes, a fair number of earthquakes and constant uncertainty (people who live in poverty get to put up with all sorts of things). Technically, the vent to the volcano is open, and so it doesn’t present a catastrophic threat at the moment, but it is still a threat.

The kids still get to breathe ashes, they still never know if they’ll need to evacuate, and the resources needed for taking goods to the island cause prices to be about 20% higher than on the mainland. So the decision was made to move. Not just because of the situation today, but because NPH wants to be serving this area with the long term in mind.
Here's our motley little crew checking out the boy's dormitory

All my trips to the island so far have been day trips to look at building and infrastructure projects. I was there all day yesterday and will be headed back next weekend for their 13th anniversary celebration, so I'm sure I'll have more to write about the community there then. But since it is the reason I’m here, I wanted to give a little introduction.

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