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November 18, 2011

We are SO excited to leave for Nicarauga on March 3rd to spend spring break there! It’ll be here before we know it.
Are you interested in signing up for the trip? (let’s be honest, you should be!)

here’s some info you need to know.

The trip is from March 3rd – 10th, (Saturday-Saturday) and costs $1350.

SIGN UP will be at Para Coffee at 7pm on Wednesday, December 7th!! The trip fills up quickly and sign-ups will be on a first come, first serve basis. So be there at 7 and bring a deposit check of $175 to secure your spot.

e-mail with any questions!

Nica love!


a beautiful Christmas video from ORPHANetwork

December 24, 2010

Sign Up to come to NICARAGUA with us!

December 2, 2010

Hey UVa friends!

As you know, we take a trip down to Managua, Nicaragua every spring break to love on orphans and serve communities. It is an incredible trip.

If you want to come with us, your chance to commit and secure your spot is here!


Caroline Richards, our lovely NOF president, will be there to sign you up.  Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The trip will cap at 30 people.  The first 30 people to sign up will receive spots on the trip.  Names collected after that will be placed on a wait-list.
  2. To sign up, it means you are 100% committed to attending the NOF Spring Break trip and paying the trip price of $1200.  Payment will be collected in two installments in January and February of 2011.
  3. Signing up will also mean you are committed to participating in the planning of the 2nd AnnualNOF Barefoot 5K fundraising event in the spring.
  4. The trip will most likely occur from March 4-11, 2011 with flights out of Dulles Airport.  The price of the trip is $1200.

We are so excited for this trip already…if you have questions, please contact us at:

so very much Nica love,

the UVa NOF


’tis the season

November 26, 2010

While we spend this Thanksgiving break off of school thinking of how grateful we are to be a part of communities in Nicaragua, the NOF at UVa is also  looking forward to spreading some Christmas cheer to our friends at Casa Bernabe!

We’re making Christmas cards for all of the kids at the orphanage and are SO EXCITED for them to get our personal greetings of love. The only thing better would be if we were there to hand-deliver them ourselves.

Here’s to hoping you’ve enjoyed a Thanksgiving full of family, friends, and every other good thing there is to be thankful for! and happy Christmas season!

also, if you have a free moment. click right here to watch a Thanksgiving video ORPHANetwork made.  They interviewed some  of the kids and asked what they are grateful for…it will make you grin from ear to ear.


Garden Party!

November 21, 2010

This past Thursday evening, the NOF gathered in one of UVa’s beautiful gardens. It was a great time to be together, celebrate Nica, and share our love for Nicaraguan orphans with our friends!

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(photography by Ellen Picker)

trip reflections

November 9, 2010

I met Erlina on her thirteenth birthday. It was our first day in Nicaragua.  We’d left Charlottesville around 11 the previous evening, flown out of Dulles in the wee hours of the morning, had a lay-over in El Salvador, and experienced a bus ride through Managua that was a sensory explosion of color and Spanish music and billboards and a million new sights.  And then, in the mix of being thrown into a radically different country, we were there at the orphanage and ushering Erlina into her new life as a teenager.

As we were walking around and getting our feel for the place, we met her in the little girls’ house.  Erlina didn’t live there anymore – she had recently moved into the house for older girls, a little place on the grounds of the orphanage with brilliant, bubble-gum pink walls.  Although she had moved out, she was there and surrounded by a ton of little girls.  Erlina was helping them with homework, listening intently as they talked to her about silly things.  It was clear that they looked up to her as a big sister, someone who cared about them.  As we were making introductions, someone announced that it was Erlina’s birthday.  All of us eagerly sang her the birthday song in Spanish, and she looked shyly to the ground and gave this huge, sincere smile.  It made her whole face glow with light.

The plan for the next day was to take the kids to the beach.  We loaded painted school buses and waited for our new friends to join us.  The bus seemed to transform into a pulsing burst of joy as the children climbed on and found seats.  They walked through the aisles with looks of pure excitement, so ready to enjoy a day of play, jumping up and down and throwing their hands out of the window and standing on their seats.  Before I knew it, I looked at the spot that had been empty beside me to find sweet Erlina sitting there, smiling at me with a beach towel.

And I realized in a panic that I had absolutely nothing to say to her.

All I could think about was that I didn’t really speak Spanish.  And also, even if I did, what on earth did I have in common with a young Nicaraguan orphan?  I had no clue how to relate to her life.  I didn’t know what to ask her, didn’t know how to tell her more about myself, didn’t know how to connect with her.  It was terrifying. Deciding that I had to do something, I extended my hands and asked (in Spanish, to the best of my ability) if she wanted to play the game Concentration.  Before I knew it, half an hour had passed and Erlina and I were all smiles, laughing and having a ball.  The more we played, the more comfortable I felt.  I started trying to ask her things like her favorite color and animal in Spanish.  She had an unreal amount of patience and grace for me as I struggled through my rusty Spanish vocabulary.  She taught me new words and corrected my mistakes gently.  And as she revealed that she knew quite a bit of English, she began asking me questions.  We spent much of the ride teaching each other, and I learned that we weren’t all that different.

When we got to the beach, Erlina grabbed my wrist and we instantly ran from the bus to the ocean.  We spent hours in the water that day.  She couldn’t get enough of it.  Our favorite thing to do was push our hands together and pretend we were dolphins as we dove over waves. Sometimes I would look over at her and realize that I was wearing the same happy expression on my face, not worrying about a single thing – there was so much freedom in that.  Later on that evening, I discovered that the salty Pacific ocean had washed off my sunscreen and the result was a miserable sunburn.  I could only laugh at it.  It was totally worth it to be a sea-creature for the day.

This summer, I had the opportunity to spend a month in Nicaragua  (it’s the type of place you fall so deeply in love with that you are always dreaming up ways to get back there).  I went to visit the orphanage one afternoon and spent the whole trip there anticipating seeing Erlina. I couldn’t wait to hug her, this beautiful chica who taught me patience and grace and how to be a dolphin.  At the same time, I wondered if she’d even remember me.  It seemed like she gave me so much more than I gave her.  As I walked through the grounds of the orphanage and approached the pink house, Erlina stepped out and our eyes met.  She ran over to me and lifted her wrist, which was bearing the friendship bracelet I had made for her.  I got tears in my eyes.  It was covered in dirt, all the colors faded and dusty, but it was there.

There are things about Nicaragua that hurt me deeply. I hurt for kids like Erlina who don’t get to go home everyday and hug her mother and her father.  I hurt for the poverty I see, for the abuse, and for the hunger. Sometimes I feel helpless thinking that I can do nothing to change these things, but then I think of Erlina and realize that as useless as I feel, I have something to offer.  I can love people in a way that gives them the freedom to be joyful, to play in the ocean, to go round after round of Concentration.  I can love in a way that reveals people’s worth, that reminds even orphans that they are not the brokenness they come from, but that they are budding with potential and life. It is the most absurdly wonderful experience, interacting with people and igniting pockets of joy within them, and realizing that the process of doing that ignites joy in you, too.


-emily thompson (2010 Spring Break Trip participant, NOF Executive Board member)

**stay tuned to this blog for more stories/testimonials about our experiences in Nica!

our first interest meeting!

October 25, 2010

Are you a UVa student interested in learning more about the NOF or about our Spring Break trip to Nicaragua? Then come out to CABELL 340 THIS THURSDAY (October 28th) at 6pm!

We’ll have a short&sweet meeting with some fun announcements and information you don’t want to miss.

We can’t wait to see some new faces there! 🙂

with love&face-paint&Nica-joy,