My Journey: By Bernadette Garcia, part 2
- 12 September 2014
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Bernadette Garcia (pictured here with Luis Fernando) is a recent school leaver from St Andrew's and St Bride's in East Kilbride. She spent a year with SCIAF funded project 'Special Families' in Nicaragua.
Outside of the classroom, I also worked alongside Claudia sometimes during lunch or in the afternoons and we would work on the websites for Special Families, the Facebook page and a newly made website.
Other times I took on the role of photographer for many events, taking and editing a whole lot of pictures for the web pages. There was always something to do and never a dull moment, such a clichéd statement yet so true.
The Nicaraguan people really went beyond and above to make me feel welcomed and part of the community. The workers and members of Special Families have really managed to create a community with a strong sense of belonging and pride in a city where people with disabilities and mental illnesses are often marginalised. Being part of this organisation which has done so much to change this and see the effect it has had on not only the person but also their whole family is something I will never forget.
Living there for a year and experiencing daily life of the Nicaraguan people, I was able to understand their hardships and could see how even the simple task of wheeling a wheelchair became such a huge challenge in the mountainous, un-developed city of Matagalpa. I heard firsthand from many of the mothers who were often left raising a family on their own of the situation they were in before receiving the help of Special Families and for all of them it was a very lonely and helpless place. Special Families has a team of workers who go out into the local community in search of those in need and invite them to be part of Special Families. Their help has reached so many people and gives them someone to turn to in times of need.
I learned so much in my year working with Special Families and it was so much better than I had ever imagined! Coming out at the end of the year I felt so rewarded and privileged to have been part of that community but I also felt that I was leaving behind a family. Although I’d love to say that I held it together and didn’t shed a tear, I’d only be lying, I cried a river. They gave me such a moving send off, with Sister Rebecca, the staff, all the students and parents gathered, performing dances and songs that they had practised, before presenting me with a bundle of cards, letters, gifts and a cake. It was almost impossible not to cry but we all remained smiling as we exchanged hugs and kisses, all of them inviting me back and letting me know I would always be welcome in their wonderful community. I knew at that moment that no matter what it took, I would be back. It wasn’t a ‘goodbye’ only a ‘see you later.’ I left my heart in Matagalpa.
Photos below include views of Matagalpa and a photo of Bernadette's last day.