Posted by: waterforwaslala | November 13, 2009

Reflection on my trip to Waslala

Lauren Zales, Villanova Student

After returning from a service trip to Waslala in October, it’s hard to put into words the magnitude of feelings I have for the Waslalan community. I am a sophomore in the Villanova School of Business, and on this trip I traveled alongside 7 engineers, 2 business students, and 2 university professors. We were welcomed to Waslala with open arms and loving hearts. Seven days later, we returned back to America with an overwhelming connection to, and affinity for, the Waslalan people.


October 2009 Villanova Break Trip

One thing that stands out in my mind was an astute observation from my business professor, Dr. Debra Arvanites. She continuously noted how amazing it was to be a witness to the natural progression and advancement of life in Waslala.

First, there is the dire need for water systems, which has become the mission of Water for Waslala. Without this basic life necessity, little further advancement could come to Waslala. It was incredible to see how the people of Waslala were able to devote their time and efforts to activities not involving the search for clean water, all because the implementation of a simple system.

After water came the need for reliable electricity, a project which is being spearheaded by a team of Villanova engineers.On this trip we were able to see Micro-Hydro energy systems which had the capacity to light up whole communities.

Finally, the focus of the Villanova business students was on economic opportunities in Waslala. However, this can only happen through the continued implementation and upkeep of water systems throughout the Waslalan region. One thing we quickly discovered is that international development is no easy task; there are major language and cultural barriers, just to name a few.

After listening to the concerns of town leaders, parish volunteers, and others, we have various ideas for the future work of Villanova’s Business Without Borders club within Waslala. We are in the initial planning stages of teaming with Immaculate Parish, WfW, and others to help develop and maintain existing sustainable business developments in the communities.

Words honestly do not do it justice – the experience was life-changing and motivating. Waslala is in essence a very different world than what we are used to. But, the smiles, laughs, dancing, knowledge, friendships, and LIVES of the Waslalan people are what inspire me to devote energy there and I’m sure what made Matt, Justin, Meaghan, and the others want to dedicate their time to these goals. Within a day of being in Nicaragua, something inside me sparked to want to return there, want to better the lives of the people in the communities, and to focus on the long term development of Waslala.

Lastly, a huge thank you to Water for Waslala- the founders, the board, the on-the-ground team, donors, and the volunteers. Without you, our shared goal of bettering Waslala would only be a distant dream and never a reality.



  1. to my dear grandchild, lauren t. zales. you have made me proud beyond words. your total interest in the needs of all has always touched me deeply. know that i love you dearly and am always here to support you. god bless, nan

  2. Hello, I’m from Waslala but now i’m studiying in El Salvador.
    well, I think you had an amazing experience in Waslala. I thank to you for helping to develop this comunity.

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