Nicaragua holds a special place in our hearts. It was here, while we were both volunteering as photographers and video producers with AMOS Health and Hope in 2011, that we decided we wanted to honor God through our relationship and commit to getting married (although we kept everyone else in the dark until our surprise wedding!). Nicaragua is also the setting for the beginning of Jordan’s testimony, the turning point when he saw the joy that only comes through life in Christ and began to actively seek out what it truly means to be a Christian. So returning to Nicaragua and working with AMOS feels a little like coming home.
AMOS Health and Hope is a Christian non-profit organization that exists to improve the health of impoverished communities by working alongside them in health, education and development. People and partnerships are at the heart of how AMOS works. They strive to help communities build up their capacity to identify their priority needs by training local leaders in rural communities to be health promoters and supplying them with medical resources.
Here is a video that we produced about the AMOS Model:
A lot has changed in the four years since we interned at AMOS, including a move to a MUCH larger campus with lots of new facilities (see the video we produced highlighting their guesthouse amenities here), increases in staff size, and new programs being implemented in the communities. Despite their growth and changes, AMOS is still doing the same great work in the communities where healthcare is inaccessible.
One of AMOS’ new programs is their water, sanitation and hygiene project, which expands on their previously existing bio-sand water filter program. In addition to providing water filters for communities to have access to clean drinking water, they also now train local leaders to be “water promoters” and educate their community about proper water usage and good sanitation and hygiene through frequent home visits and school talks.
We produced this video highlighting the water projects:
During our month-long project at AMOS, we spent two and a half weeks filming in the “campo”, some of the most remote communities of Nicaragua where we traveled nine hours on a cramped bench seat in the back of a bumpy ambulance to get there. We visited many communities, some familiar and some new to us, and had the opportunity to see growth, not only in the children that we recognized from four years ago, but also in the quality of life in the communities. It was super cool to see former health promoters who had become nurses in the local ministry of health offices, and teenagers who had become members of their community’s health committee or water promoters, and it was encouraging to see the new staff at AMOS walking alongside these people, sharing life as well as health and hope.
It was this ethos of walking with the people that inspired this “Walk With Me” video that we produced:
After two-and-a-half weeks filming in the campo, followed by a grueling one-and-a-half weeks of editing, we were really starting to feel the ill effects of working for four weeks straight without a day off. So when the last video was done exporting, we hopped on a bus with a loose plan and headed south for some rest and relaxation. But if you know either of us, you know that our idea rest and relaxation doesn’t involve lying around in a hotel or on a beach. Instead, we went to San Juan del Sur, rented a surfboard and got a ride to the surf break for two non-stop days of wave riding. Then we headed over to Ometepe Island where we had some unfinished business. Four years ago we had visited Ometepe and hiked to the top of one of the two twin volcanoes on the island (the smaller, extinct Maderas). So this time we decided to tackle the taller, active Volcán Concepción. Setting off with a guide at 6:15am from the base, we made the ascent in about 5 hours, reaching the rocky rim of the sulfur-spewing crater. It was an amazing feeling to hike through the clouds, with a stiff chilly breeze blowing the clouds across your skin, leaving condensed water droplets in your arm hairs, and then to climb even higher until we were looking down through the clouds at the entire island and Lake Nicaragua. The way down was a little quicker, mostly because we took a shortcut through the path of an old lava flow of volcanic sand, running and sliding down the steep side of the volcano (similar to running down a sand dune, but for 30 continuous minutes). Towards the bottom of the volcano, it is more like a rainforest and we saw capuchin and howler monkeys, many different kids of beautiful brightly colored butterflies, and even a coral snake! It was a breathtaking experience in God’s Creation.
Coming back to Managua felt nice, with the weight of the video projects off our backs and a nice vacation still fresh in our minds. We arrived back at AMOS at lunchtime on a Friday, which means time for their weekly devotional lunch. This time, it was dedicated to an expecting mother on the staff, so it was a more like a really sweet baby shower for her and a delicious meal. Many times throughout our stay, Cassie and I will look at each other after interacting with someone on the AMOS staff and just wonder how AMOS finds such amazing people from their security guards all the way to their managers and program directors. Maybe it’s because they all feel so content to be working for a greater purpose, something that we can definitely identify with now. The Communications Director, Christy, took us out one night to Managua’s new and improved malecón (boardwalk) for an enjoyable night on the town. When we were here four years ago, this area was a dangerous place, but due to a complete demolition and transformation, the area is now a beautiful family-friendly destination filled with giant glowing “trees of life” and even has a cool miniature replica of the city before the 1972 earthquake. It was good not only to come back to see the positive changes at AMOS Health and Hope, but also to see the improvements happening in Managua. We can’t wait to see what else will change before our next visit!
Visit the AMOS Health and Hope website to learn more about how you can support their work in Nicaragua.