Kamloops volunteers deliver food to garbage community in Nicaragua

By Chad Klassen
March 22, 2016 - 5:19pm Updated: March 22, 2016 - 7:06pm

KAMLOOPS — In the Nicaraguan community of El Limonal, where over 2,000 people live and work in a garbage dump, it's a matter of survival.

So when the Global Solidarity Group came to deliver food hampers during a recent trip this month, the people were overjoyed to simply have something to eat.

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"When we delivered the hampers, it was so awesome because we went into the town and we bought all the food, which was incredible," says Teresa Cline, a Kamloops native representing Global Solidarity Group on the trip. "It's not like you just pull up to a Superstore and buy a bunch of food and throw it into the back of the truck, no. You walk down this crazy busy street full of different vendors, and it's ridiculously hot weather."

The group, with the $3,000 collected from School District 73 students and other donors, bought rice, sardines, beans and chicken at an outdoor market 30 minutes outside El Limonal. The food then had to be transported to the community. 

"These guys in the middle of a hot day are dragging all these 100-pound sacks of rice, and big buckets of oil. They have to carry it about four blocks to their trike taxi, so it's not like we have a car here. They'll putting it on their bicycle taxi," says Cline.

The men then have to ride a half an hour to El Limonal, where the hampers, with enough food in them for a week, were delivered to 250 families.

"We're talking about people who survive on a day-to-day basis. We're talking about families of five who survive on a dollar a day, who will often times skip meals," says Jess Rothenburger, who's been travelling to El Limonal since 2012 and is featured in the documentary Gringos in the Garbage. "So when you can deliver food hampers to feed a family of five for over a week, that's a really big deal."

For Rothenburger, a Kamloops native who's been going to El Limonal for four years now, including a trip in 2014 when he lived in the dump for 10 days as part of a documentary, delivering the hampers fulfills a long-standing promise to the people there.

"It was vindicating," he says. "When we first rolled into the community in 2012, the reason they let us into their homes, into their community, was because we made a promise to them that we would share their story. We felt that if the rest of the world could see their stories, there was a big liklihood other people would want to help."

That has happened beyond imagination, especially in Kamloops, with students jumping on board. The Gringos in the Garbage documentary premiers on Wednesday night at TRU, and Rothenburger say they're far from done. 

"Gauging by the generosity of all the donors with Global Solidarity Group, and the interest people are showing in our movie, I have a feeling there's lots more to come."

Proposals aplenty; no official submissions received