Deep into RAAS, Nicaragua - documentary photography for NGO

Nicaragua RAAS photography

Photography for NGO

I've worked with Fabretto Children's Foundation for some time and this time we travelled really deep into Nicaragua’s most isolated region: the Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RAAS). The whole goal of this journey was to document the effort and commitment of both kids, and teachers who  travel long, dangerous distances to learn and share their knowledge.

To get there, we first drove six hours from Managua to Nueva Guinea, and hitchhiked in the back of a truck along a  dirt road for four hours. When the road ended, we made the switch to  horseback riding for another five hours on a long ridge traversing across valleys and rivers. There were moments I felt as though I was back in the XIX century, traveling with a group of cowboys, somewhere in the wild west. Nicaragua can be as treacherous as beautiful. One of our guides fell off the horse and got injured while trying to climb a knoll. He had to walk the rest of the way, which slowed us down.

The heat and harsh sun got us – we arrived at our destination really exhausted. Luckily, we were very well received with a "sopa de gallina" (chicken soup). It's quite delicious and helps to get your energy back. I had brought my own hammock to spend the night, but when the  host –a local  teacher–offered her bed, I could not refuse it.  Little did I know that the 'bed' was basically a wooden board covered with a sheet.

“I can get use to it,” I thought to myself.  Let’s just say - it wasn’t the best night of my life. OUCH! Such is life in the tropics :) In places like this, without electricity and running water, it's the sun that determines the rhythm of the day.  You go to sleep shortly after the sunset, and wake up with the first rays - around Five o'clock in the morning.

Kids are not exempt from this rule. Jarelis, a nine-year-old girl, wakes up when it’s still dark outside to help her mother at home. Everyday, she  collects  wood for the stove, feeds the animals, takes a bath in the nearby river, and washes her own clothes.Once she’s done with household chores, Jarelis walks for over an hour across the jungle – crossing rivers and mountains – to reach school.   During the rainy season,  her journey to school cannot be completed. Due to the strong currents, crossing the river is too great of a risk, forcing her to turn around. I had the opportunity to witness her dangerous trip to school.  We've accompanied her on that journey.


Z Fundacją Fabretto współpracuje od jakiegoś juz czasu. Tym razem podróżowaliśmy daleko w głąb Nikaragui. Do osady położonej w jednym z najtrudniej dostępnych regionów -  Południowo Karaibski Autonomiczny Region Nikaragui (RAAS). Celem wyprawy było udokumentowanie wysiłku i poświecenia uczniòw i nauczycieli - tych pierwszych w zdobywaniu wiedzy, tych drugich, w dzieleniu się nią.

By dotrzeć do RAAS wpierw musieliśmy przebyć drogę z Managui do Nowej Gwinei, co zajęło nam około sześć godzin. Potem cztery godziny na pace 'pick-upa' wyboistą drogą (a raczej zlepkiem dziur i mulu). Gdy owa ‘droga’ się skończyła , przesiedliśmy się na konie i dodatkowe pięć godzin spędziłem na grzbiecie pokonując wzgórza, doliny i rzeki. Podróżując w grupie jeźdzców poprzez dziewicze, dzikie, tereny czułem się niczym kowboj przeniesiony w czasie. Ale Nikaragua potrafi byc zarówno piękna jak i zdradziecka i jeden z naszych przewodnikòw spadł z konia w trakcie pokonywanie jednego ze wzgórzy. Spowolniło to nieco nasza podròż, gdyż nie był juz w stanie wspiąć się na grzbiet i zmuszony był kontynuować resztę drogi pieszą. 

Upał i palące słońce nas dało nam się we znaki i na miejsce dojechaliśmy wykończeni. Ja miałem zostać w domu z nauczycielem, jego synami i przewodnikiem, podczas gdy moja towarzyszka z Fabretto, Elena, zostala oddelegowana do domu o zenskiej przewadze domownikòw. By ugościć przybysza w Nikaragui w zwyczaju jest by ubić kurę i zrobić rosół. (nieco inny w smaku niz ten polski ze wzgledu na bardziej egzotyczny dobòr warzyw). Wyborna i ożywiająca strawa dla strudzonego wędrowca. Nasz gospodarz zaoferował mi swòj pokòj i łoże, a ja ja nie potrafiąc odmowić, zaakceptowałem (pomimo iż zabrałem ze sobą hamak). Jak się okazało, łòżko to zwykła deska z nałożonym cienkim prześcieradłem. Nie żebym byl wielkim mieszczuchem, ale poobijałem się przez te kilka nieprzespanych nocy. ;) 

W miejscach jak to, bez elektrycznosci i bierzącej wody to słońce wyznacza rytm dnia i ludzie kładą się spać zaraz po jego zachodzie, a wstają wraz z pierwszymi jego promieniami - o piatej rano. Dotyczy to wszystkich, także dzieci.
Jarelis, dziewięcioletnia uczennica i jedna z bohaterek naszego reportażu, wstaje kazdego dnia o tej porze. Przed pòjściem do szkoły musi zdażyć pomòc mamie; nazbierać drewno na opał, nakarmić zwierzęta, wykąpać się w pobliskiej rzece także uprać tam ubrania. Zaraz po tym czeka ją ponad godzinna wyprawa do szkoly przez dzunglę, rzeki i wzgorza. W czasie pory deszczowej bywa to niemozliwe. Ja towarzyszyłem jej w tej podróży - tam i z powrotem.

 

 

It might look fun but that's actually the least pleasing part, packed on the back of the truck through the bumpy dirt roads. 

It might look fun but that's actually the least pleasing part, packed on the back of the truck through the bumpy dirt roads. 

Across the Nicaraguan rivers. 

Across the Nicaraguan rivers. 

The house I stayed in.

The house I stayed in.

Good night RAAS. 'La profesora' (the school teacher and my host) lighting the candle on the little Altar before going to bed.

Good night RAAS. 'La profesora' (the school teacher and my host) lighting the candle on the little Altar before going to bed.

Good morning.

Good morning.

To get to school you need to break through the jungle first. Jarelis - first on the left. 

To get to school you need to break through the jungle first. Jarelis - first on the left. 

Then there is a river. It may look beautiful during the dry season, but becomes dangerous during the rainy season - really deep with strong current.

Then there is a river. It may look beautiful during the dry season, but becomes dangerous during the rainy season - really deep with strong current.

And as you can see above it's not that easy to cross it even during the nicaraguan summer. One bad step, and you end up soaked. 

And as you can see above it's not that easy to cross it even during the nicaraguan summer. One bad step, and you end up soaked. 

Classroom Nicaragua. 

Classroom Nicaragua. 

Jarelis, a nine-year-old girl, gets up for school at 5AM. She helps her mother prepare breakfast by bringing the wood for the stove. After, she will feed the animals. She must cross two rivers and go up and down various hills to get to her school. You can fin out more here

Jarelis, a nine-year-old girl, gets up for school at 5AM. She helps her mother prepare breakfast by bringing the wood for the stove. After, she will feed the animals. She must cross two rivers and go up and down various hills to get to her school. You can fin out more here

Older Grades.

Older Grades.

RAAS-45.jpg
Map of Nicaragua.

Map of Nicaragua.

Walking back from school - Up the mountain with umbrellas to hide from burning Nicaraguan sun.

Walking back from school - Up the mountain with umbrellas to hide from burning Nicaraguan sun.

Crossing the jungle on the way home.

Crossing the jungle on the way home.

Everyday you learn something new - it' not  an orange. It's 'lemon dulce' (sweet lemon)

Everyday you learn something new - it' not  an orange. It's 'lemon dulce' (sweet lemon)

Little ducklings. During the night, while sleeping, they we attacked constantly by ants. The ants bite duckling causing paralysis. Then they it it alive. Most of the homes are of dirt floors and wooden boards for walls, and people live with their animals. 

Little ducklings. During the night, while sleeping, they we attacked constantly by ants. The ants bite duckling causing paralysis. Then they it it alive. Most of the homes are of dirt floors and wooden boards for walls, and people live with their animals. 

 5 am. Getting ready to go back. 

 5 am. Getting ready to go back. 

Western movie feeling.

Western movie feeling.

On the left - That's how we roll.      On the right - Fabretto Foundation Annual report cover with pictures that I took in RAAS. You Can see the whole version here (click)

On the left - That's how we roll.      On the right - Fabretto Foundation Annual report cover with pictures that I took in RAAS. You Can see the whole version here (click)