Wendy Willis BSc; Metallurgical Technician, Chemical Biology (Scientist), & Mill Operations. LASM Supporter (Visited Fall 2014). Kamloops, B.C.

I had the opportunity to visit my good friend Tara in Nicaragua last fall. Tara and I met when she lived in Kamloops. She was at the beach, saw us out dragon boating on the river and came up to me afterwards. We had that instant connection, like we had been friends forever. All I know now is we will be forever friends. We don’t see each other much these days, in fact I think the last time I saw her (other than this past year) was when she came back to liquidate her things and move to Honduras (after volunteering at the orphanage and meeting Alex). Well enough of the back story.

Tara meets me at the airport and we spend the night chatting away. The next day we have a few stops before we drive to Dario, the town she now calls home. I must have taken 20 photos of people hanging off cars and trucks as they maneuvered down the main road. I work in a mine and safety is paramount in everything I do. I was cringing at the normal in Nicaragua. Tara just shrugged and told me you get used to it. Tara has had to get used to many things now that she makes her home in the tropics: one temperature of running water, Geckos in coffee pots and more recently scorpions as fascinators.

The things she has gained is immeasurable. The difference in the lives of the boys in her program and their families is amazing. What she can do with a dollar in Nicaragua compared to that same dollar in my pocket here in Canada is outstanding. She is also learning how to run the program and expand it to include not just the boys. Sure you can have experience doing these things but the cultural differences can be hard to maneuver sometimes. Tara takes these setbacks in stride and keeps moving forward.

I was able to spend a morning with Tara, Alex, the staff and boys. Yes staff. I am amazed at how Tara has expanded the program so much that she has created employment for other Dario residences as well as helping the boys. The boys were presenting their science fair projects. I have never judged a science fair, but with my science degree and a fascination for teaching, I jumped at the chance when Tara asked me to be co-judge with the science teacher at the local school. The projects were all so well done and leaned a bit towards the entrepreneur type. Some of the boys had never spoke in front of an audience and they overcame their fears, performing brilliantly. One boy  was quite sick and didn’t think he could make the science fair. He arrived anyways, walking from his home way on the outskirts of town. He was formally dressed, including a tie. He just couldn’t stay away on such an important day. At the end of the day Tara gave him a lift home. I could not believe that this little boy would walk so far, being sick mind you, to attend “school”. It is a testament to the program and Tara’s vision.

I had a lot of time to think during my flight home to snowy Canada. I couldn’t wait to feel the cold, and be cold, after the humidity and heat of the tropics. Mainly I thought about how Tara and I used to hang out before she moved to Nicaragua. We would go for dinner, go to the Blue Grotto, listen to live music and dance the night away. We would share meals at each other’s houses. We would go for coffees at Starbucks. I started to think about the money I would have spent while spending time with Tara. It was easily $25/month. I pledged to continue spending that money with Tara. The only difference now is Tara is able to provide hungry boys with nourishment for their bodies, mind and soul. The difference for me, I may not be able to see my friend every month, but I know she is where she needs to be. I just need to plan my next trip down, maybe when she needs help building her own center with grounds for the kids.

I know Tara posts things all the time but I wanted to post something about her and how inspired I am by her. I am glad our paths crossed that day on the beach.


Wendy Willis BSc; Metallurgical Technician, Chemical Biology (Scientist), & Mill Operations. LASM Supporter (Visited Fall 2014). Kamloops, B.C.