A visit to Nicaragua was made by District 5450 Rotarians and interested parties.  Rotarians were Charles Rudolph and Bob Kemp of Denver Mile High Rotary and by Dr. Scott Nelson of Boulder Rotary Club.  There were a total of 6 people in our group including two significant partners of Rotarians.
One of our party was a civil engineer, Mark Van Nostrand, who is a volunteer with Boulder Valley Friendship Cities Association which is working on a separate Global Grant for Water and Sanitation in Northern Nicaragua in concert with Boulder Valley Rotary.  Mark wanted to compare his project’s practices with ours as well as to gain some knowledge of the area and problems.
Our trip included hosting Managua Rotary Club representatives to lunch, visiting their club meeting, and also by making a social visit to another Nicaraguan Rotary club, Rotary Club Ciudad Sandino. 
We also visited a Managua Rotary Club meeting where we gained much more insight into our partner club.  We had supposed that it was a large wealthy club and we were surprised to observe a small club of moderate means.  While drafting the Global Grant we could not understand why a large club was only being asked for a $250 contribution to the Grant.  Having visited their meeting, we now understand that their $250 contribution was much more a burden to them than the $4000 was to our club.  Their membership is somewhere less that 20 mostly young professional people. They have their own projects done internally and they have other International Rotary Clubs partnering with them on other grants.
We also gained insight about another club in Rural Northern Nicaragua which is a partner with Boulder Valley Rotary on a separate Global Grant.  The Northern Nicaraguan club is being asked for a contribution in that Grant of $100 and the Nicaraguan Rotary Club of less than 10 people was having a difficult time coming up with that contribution.
We also visited a meeting of Rotary Club Cuidad Sandino and were inspired.  This small club of around 15 is composed of American Expats and local professionals.  This club is in one of the poorest areas of Managua Metro and NO ONE IN THE CLUB HAS CLEAN WATER IN THEIR HOME, and this also applies to the population of Cuidad Sandino en toto.  We were inspired by their upbeat attitude and their desire to improve their slum area through Rotary relationships and Global Grants.
We spent 3 days visiting past Rotary projects, our Global Grant Sites, El Tule and Apatu, and several sites for future Rotary projects.  These sites were generally on 4 wheel drive roads/paths, some 5 to 10 miles off decent graded dirt roads and usually 10 – 20 miles off paved highways.  All sites were 3 – 4 hours away in the North to Northeast direction from Managua. 
Maria Soler of Managua Rotary Club met us in the field and we discussed the ongoing progress of the Global Grant after we both had visited sites.
At our Global Grant Site, El Tule, we visited one latrine under construction and we mortared a little cement in the construction of the base for the double pit latrine.  Other latrines were under construction since the GG funds are now in Managua Rotary’s hands.  They hope to complete all 74 latrines before the rainy season that begins in about a month but there may be some carry over until the next dry season comes (rains start in late May, early June and it starts to dry up in about December).
At Aptu, we saw the water source, a partially dry creek bed where clothes washing and bathing leaves the water in the pool milky.  We inspected the pump that takes water from the acquifer below the steam bed and delivers to just above the steam.  With electrification that system will pump water up hill to a tank.  We walked up the hill about 200 feet of elevation gain to where the new water tank was being built.  We did not observe any construction of delivery lines and meters to homes since that will be the last leg of the water system. To beat the rainy season, the village has already dug the trench and laid the pipe from the pump creekside uphill to the water tank site.  We observed the first layers of bricks being laid for the water tank at the top of the hillside village.  Water purification (chlorine) will be applied at the tank before the gravity system is used to distribute to each hut.  This will be a metered system.  We did not see any latrines under construction yet.
El Chaguitilo was the site for a Boulder RC matching grant project in 2012 – 2013.  We visited the village as part of our check on sustainability of former grants.  We found a neat village on a steep hillside where all the latrines were in use and being kept clean.  The latrines were properly signed for Rotary.  It has also been reported that the water well portion of the grant was not successful as there was not adequate water flow.  (picture of well site is below) There was a discussion between our team member who is a Boulder Rotarian, the operations director for El Porvenir (who was also the NGO on the earlier MG) and a village representative as to what potential remedy for water might be done as a fall back option.
During our several village visits we greeted the children who were very outgoing.  We brought baseballs, bats and soccer ball.  They were distributed to the village elders but immediately used by the children.  A picture follows of a boy who had carved his own baseball bat (shown) and also holding an H&B bat and baseball that the village received.
Our Nicaraguan visit was entirely hosted by El Porvenir,(EP) and we individually paid a fee to cover costs plus overhead.  We were guided and driven by EP staff.  We visited 2 EP field offices and observed how EP staff covers their mission.  EP’s activity seems to be focused in these regional offices where small far out communities bring their proposals for support and funding.  EP receives initial requests, guides representatives for those communities on how to organize and advises them on proper sanitation and water practices.  When funding becomes a need, EP guides them into an application that requires the community to organize, come up with their own contribution to a project in terms of money and sweat.  EP provides ongoing training as part of any grant as to water handling, sanitation and maintenance of their future project.  We observed a smoothly running, non-pretentious efficient organization in EP.
There will be future funding opportunities from El Porvenir as the years go by.  We Rotary visitors this Spring heartily endorse EP’s mission in Nicaragua.
Sincerely, Charles Rudolph, Denver Mile High Rotary and trip organizer