Jessica Northrop Shares Her Nicaragua Build Trip Experience


Jessica Northrop is a LIV Sotheby’s International Realty Broker and Giveback Homes Member in Greenwood Village, Colorado. She recently traveled with the Giveback Homes team to Nicaragua to build a home for Carla and her family. Read about her journey to Nicaragua and get an inside look at life on a Nicaragua Build Trip below. Excerpts are from Jessica’s Facebook posts, shared during her time on the trip.




Day One in Nicaragua:

I woke up this morning and was able to take in the natural beauty and landscape in Managua. The rest of the day was spent getting acquainted with the city and the team of volunteers from all over the country. We enjoyed a delicious, authentic lunch at a local restaurant, met our Habitat for Humanity guides, and learned more about the extreme living conditions most Nicaraguans face. We ended our night with a fun team building dinner. Tomorrow we start building for a very deserving family.



Day Two in Nicaragua:

First of all, what a beautiful country. We left our hotel at 7 AM and traveled an hour and a half to the build site. Lots of interesting terrain, traveled through many local communities. Once at the build site we met the family and were given our building instructions. It is a very hot and humid climate year round. Today was no exception. The building of the home entailed hauling cinderblock, mixing cement, apply mortar, securing rebar. Honestly, it was harder and more taxing than I thought it would be.

My two takeaways from today were:

1. The difference in my life and their lives. Everyday for them is basic survival. Providing food, shelter, and safety for their family. Blessed and grateful.

2. The family was timid and shy when we first arrived. It seemed as the house progressed and started to take shape, slowly you could see the family's pride and confidence grow. Seeing them smile and being able to engage with them was priceless.

The last observation of the day was made by America Michael. Her comment at dinner that the people of Nicaragua are "underrated" really struck me. So true. People with so little, still working, struggling, striving to get ahead to provide a better life for their family. Grateful today for this opportunity. #givebackhomes #socialgood #ihavenewfriends




Day Three Nicaragua:

This morning was an early breakfast call at 7 AM. Lucky for us the dining area overlooked the beautiful beach. After breakfast we headed back to the work site. The day started with a lovely devotional led by America Michael, dedicating the day and our efforts to the family and to the people of Nicaragua.

Today seemed to move faster and more fluid. We all understood the difference between mortar and concrete. We knew our roles as monkey fillers, cement delivers, or concrete fillers. We were all pleased with the progress of the house. After building we had a nice dinner discussing the day’s events. I can honestly say I am honored to have some of the most awesome and interesting team members. "The Californians" are dominating the group, but Texas, Oregon, and Colorado are the essential cool kids. At dinner we took turns answering three different questions:

1. Question One: If you could go back 10 years and give yourself advice what would it be? Ten years ago I was going through the most challenging and difficult time in my life. Anxiety and fear sometimes took over my thinking. At that time, I often spoke to my Dad. I believe he gave me some pretty invaluable advice. When things seemed impossible he would simply say, "Things look bad, but let's wait and see." What does that mean?? It means we create drama, we expect the worst, but in most cases things work themselves out. Try not to overreact and go to worst possible outcomes. Problem solve and be part of the solution. I ❤ you Dad.

2. Question Two: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 5 years I see myself as a person of value. I want my family, my friends, my colleagues, my community to know and feel how much I value them. I want to create change and again always be part of the solution.

3. Question Three: What was the high and low point of the day? I only had a high point. The high point could be looked at as a high or a low depending on how you look at it. The living conditions are so basic, so harsh you could see it as a low point. The kitchen that Carla utilizes everyday is an open flame fire to cook meals for her family. I obviously want her conditions to improve and life to be easier for her and her family. At the same time, I was totally impressed and proud as a woman and a mom to see the pride and dedication Carla poured into her family. She had things under control. Kids were fed. Her middle daughter was dressed perfectly for her school graduation. Carla may have simple means, but you could sense the dreams and goals she has for her kids. My hope is that this simple act of creating a better space for their family provides a launching pad for their future. One of my favorite sayings is, "It's not the home I love, but the life that is lived there." May this be a new life - new memories for Carla and Mauricio. A place of new beginnings. And a place they can always call home.

Thank you Giveback Homes. Thank you Caroline Pinal. True inspiration. Genuine leader. Be the change.  #givebackhomes #socialgood #returnofthemac




Final Day in Nicaragua:

The final day is a special day. It is the day the new home is dedicated and the volunteers get to celebrate with the family. The home is now about 75% complete. Over the next few weeks the roof will be put on and the windows installed. When we arrived to meet the family this morning they had invited some extended family members and neighbors. Today you could really sense the excitement and the happiness in their eyes.

After the dedication we played musical chairs, balloon races, and the kids knocked down a piñata. We all had a lot of fun playing with the kids. When it was time to say goodbye it was hard to hold back the tears. The innocent faces of the children are hard to leave behind. But the face that will stick with me forever is the face of Carla Sanchez. A woman, a mom, a wife who everyday has the WILL, the COURAGE, and the HEART to survive, to provide, and succeed. My true hope is that the four walls we built will provide a haven for their family. That their days are easier and their future brighter.

So grateful for this experience and for lessons learned from Nicaragua, the Sanchez family, and Giveback Homes. Caroline Pinal your spirit of giving is contagious, truly inspiring! To the build honored to meet each and everyone of you. Thank you for the laughter and the memories. #nica2016 #headedtomyhomesweethome





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