It is the holiday season, a time to focus on family and other loved ones. Yet, for some, Christmas can be a particularly expensive time of year. Many struggle to provide for their families and make ends meet, and for people in underprivileged areas, this is a year-round struggle.
This quarter, Ms. Hannah Gonzalez’s AP Spanish 5 class and Ms. Lauren Baylor’s Advanced Spanish Topics class have been studying “La Vida Contemporanea” or “contemporary life,” and the developing Latin American economy has been a large part of that unit.
After watching informative videos about the financial struggles endured by families in Latin America, students in both classes discussed factors like widespread unemployment and failing infrastructures.
“I wanted to open my student’s eyes to see how fortunate we are and to understand how other people are living,” Ms. Baylor said. “I thought it would be a good way to combat their problems with education and poverty.”
Ms. Baylor and Ms. Gonzalez then introduced the Pulsera Project to their students. The Pulsera Project is a nonprofit organization that was constructed to allow Nicaraguan artisans to earn more money through their own means. The organization acts as an intermediary for the young Nicaraguan men and women who want to sell their pulseras, which are hand-woven bracelets.
A local director for the organization in Nicaragua takes the pulseras made by over 150 artists and ships them to a company in Charleston, SC. Along with the bracelets, the director also sends posters, bags, flags and any other materials that may be necessary to sell them. The pulseras are handmade – both from string and/or leather – and each one has a tag with a picture of the person who made it and his or her signature.
According to the Pulsera Project’s data, 80% of people in Nicaragua have less than two dollars to spend each day, and most of it goes toward food and shelter to support their families.
The children have hardly any opportunity to go to school, and with all of the regulations that schools there have, it is difficult to find the money to finance their supplies and uniforms. Children who do not have the opportunity to go to school join the labor force, spending their childhood working in demanding or unsafe jobs in order to earn money for food and other necessary expenses.
Mt. Hebron first participated in the project last year, and this year, after receiving materials, the students set a goal to sell 600 pulseras.
Senior Leena Abraham, a member of the 5 AP class, explained, “The money we raise at school goes towards these different families and amazing people. You get to change a life. How much simpler could it get?”
At Mt. Hebron, Spanish students are very motivated to give back during this holiday season. Some of them have even gone as far as traveling all the way to Nicaragua to help out.
“I’ve been to Nicaragua three times on mission trips,” said senior Erik Schilstra. “I’ve seen who makes the bracelets, and I know that the money goes right to them. I’ve seen the difference it makes.”
People all over the United States have been helping out, but it is important to remember not to impose our culture on those they are trying to help. The big question is, “What can we do to help you make your life better?”
Many of the students have been participating in the cause. Pulseras are being sold during every lunch shifts for $5 each until Dec. 12. It only takes $5 to support a cause that helps young Nicaraguans working towards a better life.