Intern Lydia Vanderbilt (MI) learns first-hand about the poor living conditions in Pocora.
Driving through the dangerously unpaved roads of Pocora, a town close to EARTH University, intern Lydia Vanderbilt (MI) sees unemployed men and youngsters hanging out on the streets during the day, most of which are involved in drug deals, participate in violent gangs, and are alcoholics.
Most of the women, who are said to be the “heart of the community,” are hidden insides their homes all day, partly because they want to take care of the house and children but also because they are afraid to leave their property open to burglaries.
The town in general looks rundown with people discouraged and tired from the stresses of unemployment and the fear of a dangerous life for their children. However, these are just regular people who have a high expectation for a better future, just like anyone else. Fortunately, some of the town’s members have already taken the initiative to improve the town’s condition, simply by addressing the issues at hand.
Meeting in one of the member’s houses in Pocora, a group of eight local women gather weekly to discuss women’s issues, such as teen pregnancy, and to attempt to solve other problems their people face, such as a high number of high school dropouts.
The main goal the women have is to have a place to host community gatherings, after-school programs, or sporting events to bring the community together in a peaceful manner.
“To have a building is our dream,” said Miria, a 30-year-old mother who escaped Nicaragua with her family to avoid violence and war twenty years ago.
The women are always looking to a brighter future, but at times they feel powerless. They feel as if a change in their community is out of their hands, and this is where EARTH intern, Lydia, steps in to help.
She faces the challenge of understanding where these people are coming from and to assess their needs in order to develop a way EARTH can help the community.
Through meeting regularly with these women, Lydia aims to answer the following questions:
- Why don’t youth in this town finish high school?
- Why do these women want to get married so young?
- Why can’t men find any form of income?
- Why do they turn to drugs and violence?
The project is only in it’s first stages, and EARTH interns know there is much work to be done and many challenges that will be faced. However, knowing that their service can bring a life-changing outcome to a struggling community, EARTH’s interns are driven to pursue the project even more.