Milwaukee area professionals return from Nicaragua service trip


Four Milwaukee area professionals recently returned from a service trip to Nicaragua where they helped construct cement houses for residents in a local village. 
“It was an incredible experience,” said Brian Mechanich, CPA at Reilly, Penner & Benton, LLP in Wauwatosa. “A friend of mine went last year and liked it so much he asked me to go with when he went back. I didn’t have to think too much about it, I’ve always wanted to be able to help people by doing something like this.”
Mechanich traveled to Nicaragua with three other Milwaukee professionals. Paul Sohn; Pete Garofalo, and John Kuehn, employees of Zywave, Inc.of Milwaukee also went on the trip. 
The group spent nine days in a village in Nicaragua constructing houses for the residents there. New York-based Bridges to Community organizes the service trips on a regular basis, and has been taking groups to Nicaragua since the year 2000.
“We were down there for nine days and we actually lived in the community and stayed in a community center, mosquito nets and all,” Mechanich said. “It was a very different lifestyle down there, seeing people with very few belongings, very few cars and houses with dirt floors.”
Mechanich and the rest of the team built two 24 foot by 26 foot one room houses for families in the village where they stayed. The area was previously devastated by earth quakes and hurricanes, Mechanich said.
“The houses we constructed were built mostly out of cement so they wouldn’t collapse as easily if the village were to be hit with severe weather again,” he said.
Each individual attending on the trip was required to pay $1295 plus airfare to go on the trip.
According to Mechanich the cost to construct a house in Nicaragua is somewhere around $3500. Mechanich raised around $3800 for the community where the group built the houses.
“It’s definitely something I will do again, I can’t explain the feeling I had after helping build a house for that family,” Mechanich said. “The family we helped didn’t speak English very well, but we had translators and by the end of the week you could tell how what we did was going to change their life. We left and said our final goodbyes; it got very emotional. Without a doubt something I will do again.”


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