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Imagine yourself living in a world where your drinking water comes from a chemically infested pond, your food money comes from selling plastic and you live in the middle of the city's local trash dump. Now, imagine, all of this as normal.


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Auburn senior, Grant Weingarten, has witnessed this poverty stricken lifestyle for the past four years during his spring break trips to Managua, Nicaragua. 

 

"We take about 100 college students and go down there to feed, clothe and show love to these orphans," said Weingarten. "Most of them are orphans and are all impoverished." 

 

After returning from the week long trip his freshman year, he knew that more needed to be done for those children he had met in this third world country. 

 

"There's a 76 percent poverty rate in Nicaragua that all started from natural disasters and political corruption," said Weingarten. "They're just in a terrible situation, which isn't much fault of their own."

 

Weingarten's experiences with these children and his witnessing of their malnourished living conditions ignited the creation of the Firstfruits Foundation. The foundation's name comes from the verse in the Bible, Proverbs 3:9, which states, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops" (NIV). 

 

As a certifiably nonprofit organization, Firstfruits Foundation benefits the next generation of the Nicaraguan people: their children, which is their greatest hope for breaking the generational bondage with poverty. 

 

"Their way of life has become a generational thing," said Weingarten. "It's gotten to the point where they're so used to being poor that they don't know any other other way. There's actually a community where others paid to come in and build the Nicaraguans town homes, to then move them out of the slums. Once they moved out they didn't know how to use a toilet or what a knife or a fork were because they'd been so used to living in these little shelters."

 

Firstfruits Foundation has plans for many projects to reach the Nicaraguan people, but focuses mainly on one area called La Chureca, or the "dump." La Chureca doubles as the city's landfill, while also serving as a home for over 1,500 people of Nicaragua. 

 

"Our main project that we first started was an Internet café right outside the 'dump,' which is where most of the people in this place called La Chureca live," said Weingarten. "And it's kind of different because most people don't understand why you'd build an Internet café in such poverty stricken country, but one of the main things we're trying to do is show them that they don't have to live in the state they're living, and that they can aspire to do more."

As their mission, Firstfruits Foundation works to pull these children out of the darkness and dirt, literally, and to help encourage a new and deserved life for them. 

 

"We work with two girls whose father is a pastor and runs the orphanage," said Weingarten. "He said that he didn't want to run an orphanage that he wouldn't trust his own daughter in, so they actually grew up living with all of the other orphans. And both of the them have since come to be educated in the U.S.  One of them is actually in law school in the U.S. right now, so that she can go back and defend the legal rights of those who don't know anything about the law in Nicaragua."

 

This is just one of the many examples of the impact that one organization can have on a single life. 

 

"We try to educate these children and inspire them to work to do more, and in return, it's truly been amazing to experience," said Weingarten.

 

To find out more information about the Firstfruits Foundation and how you can give to the cause, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FirstfruitsFoundation.

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Tags: Firstfruits Foundation, Grant Weingarten, La Chureca, Nicaragua, nonprofit organization, poverty, spring break, volunteer

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