Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Words about La Chureca ....

By: Michelle Fleury

 After a riveting talk with environmentalist Julio Sanchez we were left with our thoughts of the day to come.  We fiend with anticipation about what we would hear from our next speaker, Yamileth Perez about La Chureca.  La Chureca, is not only the largest trash dump in Central America, but also the home and welfare of thousands of Nicaraguans.


However, for the night our work was not done.  Thanks to the amazing efforts of team member Andrea DiMarco we had tons of school supplies to sift through.  Everything from pencils and scissors to notebooks backpacks and clothes; Andrea found it all.  These generous donations would go towards the people we were going to meet the following day…

As we awoke to our group discussion everyone could not wait to hear Yamileth speak.  As she entered our hostel, CEPAD at 9am, we were immediately intrigued by her calming nature and warm smile. She began to speak and soon I could feel the goose bumps pass through the room.

   Yamileth Perez has been a voluntary promoter of human rights in her community for over 20 years.  Her community lives off of La Chureca, the trash dump of Managua.  Yamileth informed us that over 1,000 families both work and eat off of the waste in the dump.  70% of which base their entire livelihood off of La Chureca.

    One may wonder how it is even possible for one person, let alone a family to live off a trash dump.  Yamileth thoroughly informed us of the harsh reality that many families face on a daily basis.  The families spend their days frantically searching through the trash for anything to sell or eat.  If they are lucky, from the dump they can find pieces of copper, plastics and other metals to sell.  Some are able to make as much at 15 cuards a day; the equilvilant of 75 US cents.  However, most families are not that lucky, as the average family is only able to make 9.25 cuards a day; which is less than 50 US cents.  When compared to the average size of the Nicaraguan family six how would you survive with 50 cents a day to feed your children?

  The majority of our delegation had to fight back tears as Yamileth accounted her own stories about her battle with hunger on La Chureca for her deathly ill daughter and her family.  She bravely told us of a specific time in which a large quantity of rice was thrown into La Chureca. This specific quantity of rice was contaminated as it was in a building that was fumigated.  The trash dump knew that the local families in desperate hunger would still try to take the rice.  To ensure that no one would take the rice, the dump officials poured used motor oil over the entire supply of contaminated rice.

    With tears falling from her eyes Yamileth explained the tiring process that she underwent to wash the contaminated rice that she chose to bring home for her starving family, and deathly ill daughter.  After hours of scrubbing, she explained that she could still not get the brownish color of the motor oil off of the rice.  The acidic taste was so bitter upon consumption that it pained Yamileth and her family to consume it.  Soon eating the rice (their only source of food) became an excruciating process, which involved Yamileth and her daughters starving themselves all day, in order to be hungry enough to have the strength for each bite.  This is just one of the many struggles that Yamileth and the thousands of families that live off of La Chureca face every day.

    Hunger is not the only challenge they face because of the dump.  The constant presence of skin, resperitory, and gastro-intestinal infections plagues the community.  HIV is also an epidemic in the community.  Over time thankfully conditions at La Chureca are finally starting to improve, and the community. In fact, in February the community will be instituting sexed classes for young people to inform them of the dangerous around them.

    Also, thanks to the efforts of the Vice President of Spain, the Spanish government has given 70 million dollars towards the project to clean up La Chureca.  To date 80% of La Chureca has been cleaned.  Furthermore, the 200 original families that reside in La Chureca will receive homes and an energy plant will be created on site to supply electricity for the homes; which will then be members of a secure gated community.

    Throughout Yamileth’s efforts she has spoken with gangs of children about what things they wanted from their community in order to stay out of trouble.  From her findings she has gone on to create various soccer teams and dance groups.  These outlets for children have proven to be just what they needed.

    Yamileth’s efforts can been felt throughout the entire community and the surrounding area.   Her humility shines through for as she says, “I’m obligated to serve,” and “el no vive para servir, no servir para vivir.”  “He who does not live to serve does not serve to live.”  Which is the goal of our delegation, to “vivir para servir” (to live to serve).  We urge you all to do that same, to evaluate your own lives, and remember those who are less fortunate then you.  For please remember as you view our pictures from La Chureca, 80% of the dump has already been cleaned up and collected, it is hard to even imagine what this land that many people call home, used to look like just a year ago.


  1. This again is very emotional to know that there are places in the world where people are subjected to this type of poverty. I believe that everyone has a destiny to fulfill in the world and it is evident that Yamileth is fulfilling hers. In the US we have so much to thank God for and we all must strive to make a difference and live to serve.

    Thank you Teamnica11 for sharing with us.

    God Bless!

  2. I have lots of school materials for elementary grades from years of teaching. If there is a way to get it to the school in Nicaragua please let me know. I did not know of the campaign for schools supplies I and others I know could have contributed.

    My son Nicholas knows that his mother has lot's of teaching materials.

  3. Your commitment to bring school supplies along with you to Nicaraugua will be a true blessing to those whose lives you will touch. Thank you for being good ambassadors of the United States!