It’s the end of week eight and in the space of two weeks of construction we have more or less finished building the eco-stoves. Construction came after a frustrating six weeks of waiting for materials, but because of the wait we have achieved most of our project objectives in this time. It’s a nice day to sit back and reflect upon the past eight to nine weeks of being in Nicaragua, and with only the water filters left to construct, our dreaded flights home seem to be looming ever closer.  

The weather has become more consistently rainy in the afternoons, which means a lot of mud and cement on our shoes and pretty much the entire group has a cold. So, this Friday, everyone is yawning and sniffing and sneezing and finding it difficult to concentrate on their English lesson or report writing, but nevertheless spirits are high and we’re all quite tranquil because we’ve completed such a major objective in a short space of time. 

The construction process went incredibly smoothly down to the great organisation of the role leaders. All volunteers were separated into three groups so that we could construct as many stoves as possible in a day without becoming exhausted in the morning heat. Throughout the day we listen to music, mix cement and are fed snacks or drinks by the families we are building for, whilst also probably sweating our entire body weights. This week in the afternoons we’ve quite consistently experienced thunderstorms and heavy rainfall, which at night time has turned our road into a river. It’s probably due to this fluctuation of hot and rain that has made us more susceptible to colds, but it’s incredible to experience this weather and the benefit the consistent rain is having on our environment here. And even in the rain it’s probably still a good ten degrees hotter than the UK, although it doesn’t feel it.

Another great aspect of building with our groups is the opportunity to get to know everyone a little better. I was in quite a small group due to the odd numbers but I wouldn’t change my little team for the world. Despite not actually being able to speak to three members of my group because my Spanish is so appalling, I’ve never felt closer to them. The language barrier is always something to laugh at and although I can’t use proper sentences at all we still somehow have the most hilarious time. Everyone has different strengths and it’s been really nice to see people shine in their own areas this week. As well as getting to know our own team even more, working so closely with the community has also been incredible. All the homes we went to were so welcoming, everyone was willing to help in whatever way they could and there is always something to laugh about. And one aspect of life here that I still find so surprising is the size of the speakers people have in their little homes; we’ve visited several houses with huge sound systems that blare out music at all hours of the day. Speakers, it would seem, have taken priority over things like sofas or tables. Even if they do play the same songs over and over, I’ll hugely miss hearing music coming from numerous different houses in the community. 

The thought of only three full weeks left with our families here is pretty heart breaking, but it’s hugely uplifting to have finished the eco-stoves. Hopefully we’ll have saved a few more trees as well as saved people’s health with these clever yet simple designs. We’re all a little tired and possibly a little sore from the labour but the feeling of achievement is worth it. Ahead of us is the construction and distribution of twenty-six water filters, which we hope to finish within the week so that we can spend our remaining two weeks enjoying each other’s company and finishing off other ideas, such as a mural on the school and other objectives. 

Written by ICS volunteer Rebecca Walker