Hark Upon the Gale from Managua, Nicaragua
It was just your average spring break service trip
When Dylan Waugh ‘07 was a junior, he took a service trip to Nicaragua during spring break through the Williamsburg Community Chapel. Dylan wasn't too sure of what he had gotten himself into with the trip. And he certainly couldn't have predicted that this spring break trip would result in his forming a new service organization. When Dylan graduated from William & Mary in May, 2007, and moved to Nicaragua in September, he didn't know where he would end up or for what group he might be working. Like many other Americans in Nicaragua, he was approached by a group of children asking him for money. Instead of giving them cash, Dylan offered to take them to lunch so they could get some food. Then, another realization - it's the middle of the day - "Why aren't you in school?"
And, so, the idea for VISEDAL was born.
In Spanish, VISEDAL means:
VIS - for vísteme (clothe me)
ED - for edúqueme (educate me)
AL - for aliménteme (feed me)
The goal of the partnership is to provide sponsored children with all the things necessary to ensure they remain in school and off the streets including school tuition, clothing, food stipends, English lessons and access to extracurricular activities.
On Dylan's first trip to Nicaragua, he met Brad Johnson, Virginia Tech ‘11, also on a service trip. The two put their heads together in fall of 2007 when they were both living in Managua and VISEDAL came to fruition.
By December of 2007, VISEDAL was providing assistance to a cohesive group of 14 children and their families. By 2008, Dylan had recruited fellow classmates Nefret Hanna '07, Ben Boone ‘07/'09 and Emily Vitrano '07 to travel with him to Managua. Today, the program has increased to 20 with children ranging from 7 to 16 years old.
Support for VISEDAL
Early support for the partnership came mostly from child sponsorship, fundraisers and clothes drives. Dylan's mother works at a day care and regularly holds clothes drives to collect clothes for the children. Thirty gallon trash bags are filled with the clothes collected and each one is delivered to a sponsored child during trips to Managua. Emily organized a wine tasting and silent auction event in 2009 that raised $4,500. Today, VISEDAL offers many ways in which to support the organization or sponsor a child.
The core group of 5 goes back twice a year, usually in December and May, and recently with family and friends. The trips include school and home visits, a field trip to a local lagoon and either a Christmas or birthday party for the whole group.
There is also local support when Dylan and company are back in the states. Esmir Calderon, a native Managuan, oversees the work of VISEDAL for most of the year, a site coordinator so to speak. The kids are also involved in English lessons.
And while education is a primary focus, fun is also on the agenda. The children learned to break dance and competed at a large mall in Managua. A few are considering trying out for a competition in Brazil.