December 17, 2013: Day 4 in Nicaragua by Sam Asher

Posted by Lauren Rochholz on December 18, 2013 at 4:12 PM PST

The author of today's post is Sam Asher, a Junior Theatre Major at Seattle University.  Each day is written by a different member of the SU community making the PWOB trip to Nicaragua.

I can’t promise this to be the most fluid blog anyone’s ever read; today we poured concrete and my arms feel like they may fall off any minute. Be patient with my mind as it bounces from place to place in describing the experience of this wonderfully sunny day at the NPH Campus, Nicaragua.

Our team woke up before 7AM today so we could hit the worksite by 8AM. We had the biggest concrete pour of our project today and successfully completed it. This left our whole team ready for a siesta by the time 4PM rolled around. Granted, the peqeunos we were working with were a little bit annoyed we couldn’t finish the entire sidewalk that evening. However, after about twenty minutes of “No podemos trabajar mas,” they got the idea that we could not and would not continue. Sometimes you have to know when to quit.

Regardless of how tired our bodies were, we had a visitor for dinner this evening. At 6PM we all checked in with each other over a cup of coffee. At 6:30, Marlon Velasquez – the national director of NPH – came to share a meal with us. During our time together, he explained that NPH was built on the foundation of being a family, not an orphanage. Respect to this property, land, and community was built through hard work by the pequeños for the pequeños. He told us how visitors come and go, but the ones who have the best time are the people who interact most with the kids. If you talk to the pequeños about the right things you’re “in,” but if you give them the tiniest ounce of pity… well, you’re probably “out.”

Even though my Spanish is broken, useless, and sometimes flat out wrong, I feel like I’m a part of this family. After three days of mentally exhausting myself to get words out, I think the peak of speaking a foreign language has started. They call me “Harry Potter,” and tell me I know Spanish well, I’m just too afraid to use it. Que bonita, Nicaragua.

December 16, 2013: Day 3 in Nicaragua by Audrey Farber

Posted by Lauren Rochholz on December 18, 2013 at 4:12 PM PST

The author of today's post is Audrey Farber, a Senior Philosophy major at Seattle University.  Each day is written by a different member of the SU community making the PWOB trip to Nicaragua.

Today began with our daily discussion on the word of the day. It was determined that our new word would be “devotion”, and with this word in mind we were to go about the day devoted to the present moment and in full participation with the work at hand. In the midst of discussing this word we were interrupted by the sight of cows walking past our door to the pasture that PWOB fenced using Neam trees during last year’s trip.

After breakfast we headed out to our worksite. The group divided into two so that we could continue working on the sidewalk and begin work painting the school house. The school house is being painted a beautiful blue color that resembles the blue portion on the flag of Nicaragua.

However, the highlight of the day came after dinner. Today was the first day of La Posada, which is a Christmas tradition that NPH practices where the children and staff reenact the night Mary and Joseph were seeking shelter and were denied many times before being accepted into an Inn. We were honored to experience a night of this very special tradition which included dancing and piñatas. The children presented choreographed dances in costumes to Christmas themed music, and afterwards they all enthusiastically tried to get the most candy from newly hit open piñatas. The night ended with yummy candies and cheerful smiles all around. 

December 15th, 2013: Day 2 in Nicaragua by Wayne Holscher

Posted by Lauren Rochholz on December 17, 2013 at 5:12 PM PST

The author of today's post is Wayne Holscher who is Facilities Resident Hall Maintenance for the Bellarmine and the Douglas residence halls.  Each day is written by a different member of the SU community making the PWOB trip to Nicaragua.

We started the project today after breakfast. We are building a sidewalk to replace a trail which is often like a slip-n-slide in the rainy season. We picked up our tools to start building the forms; Antonio, Vladimir, Victor, and Ricky, a group of kids completing their Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos year-in-service kids jumped in and worked alongside us. I think the main reason they were helping us was to get the project done quicker so they could play and win soccer and volleyball sooner.

As we suspected, they did want to play soccer and volleyball, and they did win…at everything. We have noticed with volleyball they just wanted to keep the ball in the air, even if that means kicking or head butting. No rules, just fun. The kids of NPH just want to have fun and we are reminded that this is easy to forget.

Later in the evening we shared our thoughts on the Ronald Rolheiser reading from his book, The Holy Longing. We split up into small groups and took games and toys with us to dinner at the girls’ houses. It was a lot of fun. I got to know Abigail and helped her with her English. She read to me to practice before she starts at the university this fall.

December 14th, 2013: Day 1 in Nicaragua by Matthew Pyrc, SJ

Posted by Lauren Rochholz on December 17, 2013 at 5:12 PM PST

The author of today's post is Matthew Pyrc, SJ who works at Seattle University in Campus Ministry and is the Jesuit in residence in Bellarmine, 6th floor.  Each day is written by a different member of the SU community making the PWOB trip to Nicaragua.

After almost 17 hours of traveling, we arrived at Jinotepe, Nicaragua, the home of Nuestro Pequeños Hermanos, NPH. Professionals Without Borders, PWOB, is a group of staff, faculty, and students from Seattle University. We currently have 13 people in Nicaragua working at NPH, a community of about 200 youths who have been orphaned, abandoned, or were at risk. Today was our first full day and we eased into it after a tiring 18 hour journey. Breakfast consisted of eggs and cheese and the wonderful flavor of fresh bananas, the taste of which you can only get from Latin America. We all agree they just are not as good back home!

The morning was spent taking a tour of the campus. We toured the dorms, the clinic and school and saw a pig being slaughtered. That will probably be tomorrow’s dinner. We were impressed with the growth of the fence built by PWOB during last years’ service trip. The fence was constructed to corral the cattle using posts of wood that sprouts into trees…and they were beginning to sprout!  We think it’s funny that the project was called ‘pasteurization.’

After lunch we joined some of the girls in making piñatas for the Christmas Posada festivities that begin this week. Many of us are discovering how exhausting it is to try and communicate in another language, whether we can speak a lot or a little. However, soccer, or futbol, is a universal language and our game with the girls taught us a great deal about ball handling skills, true grit, and how to have fun playing in the pouring rain. The day concluded with Mass, dinner, and a friendly game of volleyball with the boys from NPH. 

The people here are wonderful and very welcoming. Some of the students have been learning English and they are enjoying the opportunity to practice speaking with native English speakers. The journey is just beginning and we are expecting the arrival of the last three members of our group tonight. We will take turns posting here this week sharing a highlight or two from each day. Here’s a photo of Seattle University Senior Audrey Farber and the piñata making. 

A Look Back: PWOB in Zambia

Posted by Lauren Rochholz on September 20, 2013 at 3:09 PM PDT

Working in Zambia has become the core of PWOB’s service trips, so take a walk down memory lane with us as we relive past trips to this amazing country.


PWOB’s first ever trip to Zambia was inspired by the work being done there by Fr. Bert Otten, SJ, who is never at a shortage of worthy projects. Professionals Without Borders worked with Fr. Otten and several other organizations to establish a network of priests and administrators in Zambia to carry out Seattle University mission-related projects.

Four staff members and three students traveled to Lusaka, Zambia to begin the primary project of the trip, the renovation of restrooms, showers, and waterworks at the Munali School Special Unit for the Deaf and Blind. The group also assisted the Engineers without Borders group of students in Chirundu, on the Zimbabwe border. Steve Szablya led a project to build a human-powered electrical generator at this location, and the rest of the team helped to construct a waterwheel that is now used for lifting water off the banks of the Zambezi River for washing and bathing.


In 2010, the PWOB team devised an open-source wind turbine design that could be easily built and operated on location in a developing country using solely components, materials, and tools found locally. The wind turbine would be used to bring electricity to users that are disconnected from the power grid.  

After a combination of lucky breaks and clever improvised engineering, one hurdle after another was cleared. After six days of intense woodworking, measuring wind speeds, and putting together the generator parts, the wind turbine was complete. The eight-foot diameter wind turbine was spinning proudly in a strong African breeze atop an 18-foot borehole pipe located on an earthen dam.


PWOB’s third trip to Zambia included 12 members who worked on two main projects during their two weeks in and around Chikuni. Working with the Jesuits at the Mukanzubo Cultural Center, the team spent the first half of their trip building a storage unit for Mukanzubo’s artifacts and the second half building a medical clinic in Chipembele. These new projects allowed the group to work side by side with Zambians learning new skills and having unforgettable experiences.


The Seattle U PWOB volunteers were on the ground for two full weeks on our third service trip to Zambia; half of them left for Zambia in mid-June and returned at the end of the month, the same day the second group left, resulting in one month of total work in Zambia from PWOB volunteers. Joyce Allen led the first group of students to install shelving in the Mukanzubo Cultural Center; they also documented and stored the center’s collection in order to preserve the heritage of the Tonga people.

Steve Szablya and his team recomissioned two large water towers in Chikuni to provide water to the local hospital. This will allow the hospital to open their new natal clinic and surgical theater. Steve and his team also continued to work on the brick wall in the Chipembele community that the first group started constructing, as well as removing the cross connect between the reservoir and the well at Mukanzubo.


This year will mark our fifth trip to Zambia, and PWOB couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this anniversary. We have built amazing connections with communities in Zambia, and hope to continue to build a better future there and everywhere PWOB has service trips for years to come.

PWOB Helps Liberty Children's Homes with Security

Posted by Lauren Rochholz on August 7, 2013 at 11:08 AM PDT

Dec 14, 2012

Liberty Children Fundraiser for the kids

Delfina Mitchell

Liberty Children’s Home continues to face financial challenges, which have been compounded recently by a series of burglaries. It has created additional expenses for the charity foundation to replace the stolen items as well as to implement and maintain new security measures. Fortunately, they received assistance from the Seattle based organization, Professionals without Borders, which has installed alarm systems on three buildings. But there’s still a great need for funding at the children’s home. The director, Delfina Mitchell told News Five today that they are having a major fundraiser at the Bird’s Isle on Sunday and hope to raise thirty thousand dollars.


Delfina Mitchell, Director, Liberty Children’s Home

“We have a fundraiser which we are marketing as a family fun fest. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be a Bird’s Isle and we’re gonna have lots of rides, games, food drinks, lots of activities and we’re going to end the day with a concert by some local artists. Why we’re doing this is to raise money so we can continue our work. You know recently we had a series of break-ins which meant that we had to institute additional security measures to make our campus safe. Because of those additional measures, we’ve had to put up additional lighting, security and all that. It’s going to cost us more money every month in utility bills, paying for security and all that and we are strapped for money as it is so we have to do something to increase the money so we can take care of the additional expenses that these thefts have incurred. The fundraiser, anybody that comes out will have a great time. We have lots of neat games, lots of great prizes that have been donated to us. I think it’s going to be a fair like no other because of the things that we have as giveaways, the prizes that we’ve gotten. The fair is going to be from ten a.m. to eight p.m. there is free entrance from ten to twelve, no charge. After twelve o’clock we’re charging five dollars for adults and two dollars for children. Santa Clause is going to be there from twelve to three-thirty with a gift for every child so bring your child out to meet Santa Clause and get a gift. I also want to say, take this time to not cook Sunday dinner because we’ll have turkey dinner, barbecue, stew chicken and rice, lots of pastries so come on out and have a good time. Start the Christmas season. Listen to the Christmas season and come out and support our children.”


Cal Ihler

Cal Ihler, Professionals without Borders

“We came to Belize looking for a place to do service work and came to Liberty and just were so struck by how the children were taken care of so well and the needs that they have. So for this particular trip, we heard that they were being broken into and computers were being stolen, clothes were bing stolen and it was not only affecting the staff, but the children too. And so we started doing fundraising to find some generous donors. They donated all the alarm equipment to us so we came down and installed alarms in their office, library and learning center. And so we’re pretty happy and grateful to be able to come down and help out.”


Professionals without Borders previously installed a water irrigation system at Liberty Children’s home and have plans to return in March of 2013 with ten students from the Seattle University to do further improvements on the water system and replace the gutters on the learning center.


Click here for the original article on Channel 5 Belize's website. 

SU Women's Soccer to Belize 2013

Posted by Lauren Rochholz on August 7, 2013 at 11:08 AM PDT

Belize for Spring Break with Seattle University Women's Soccer

Courtesy of (Official Athletic Release)

Release: Wednesday 04/03/2013


Seattle University women’s soccer head coach Julie Woodward alongside two of her student-athletes,Stephanie Verdoia (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Renae Russell (Lake Forest, Calif.), traveled to Belize over Spring Break for a service trip sponsored by Seattle U’s Professionals Without Borders (PWOB). Furthering Seattle U’s mission of educating the whole person, the group helped those in need at Liberty Children’s Home, an orphanage currently housing 28 children who were abandoned, abused, or afflicted with HIV from the ages of four to 14 years old.

This was the third year in a row that PWOB journeyed to work with Liberty Children’s Home, building upon and repairing water filtration systems they had previously built during past trips. The filtration systems have allowed residents to repurpose laundry water for use in the garden and to clean pig pens, which helps provide food for the children. The team also helped add security improvements to the home.

Renee Vandermause (Madison, Wisc.), who played her final season with the SU women’s soccer team in 2012, has also previously been involved in PWOB trips, including trips to Nicaragua and Zambia, and past trips to Belize.

As it was the first trip of this kind for all three, their experience was unforgettable and can only best be told in their own words. The following are first-hand accounts from Woodward, Verdoia, and Russell.

JULIE WOODWARD: “Our service trip to Belize was an amazing, humbling, and beautiful experience.  Being able to share it with Steph and Renae was extremely special and continued to remind me what a great place Seattle U is, not just for student athletes, but our campus community as a whole.  We were able to help others, meet some wonderful people and experience another country’s culture.  It is something I will never forget.”

STEPHANIE VERDOIA: “The mission of Professionals Without Borders is to ‘empower students to serve and lead sustainable service projects that help people in need’. Seattle University facilities employees lead groups of students around the world to make these projects happen. Ten of us made the trip down to Belize including three facilities employees, Coach Woodward, an employee from admissions, and five students. We worked at an orphanage called Liberty Children's Home, a place where Professionals Without Borders has made several trips. Our main goal was to fix the gutters on their school building, but we also temporarily fixed a leak in their boys’ dormitory. Professionals Without Borders is an organization that takes pride in creating strong relationships with the people they help, and finishing the jobs they start.

While in Belize we got a few days to explore and see the sights, but undeniably the best part of my experience was spending time with the children at Liberty. At the beginning of the trip I expected to feel some strong emotions while working at an orphanage in a relatively poor country. I definitely did, but they were opposite of what I expected. I did not worry or get upset but instead I was overwhelmed with happiness and affection. I felt this way because the environment that Liberty has created is welcoming and warm. This amazing group of kids showed me how to move past hard times in life and what family truly means. The children look after one another and treat each other as brothers and sisters, and are surrounded by caregivers and staff that love them and always want the best for them. The kids were truly happy no matter what circumstances put them there.  They were a special kind of family, and they made us feel like we were a part of it. 

Being a part of the soccer team at Seattle University has allowed me to create my own unique family up in Seattle. My teammates are like my sisters, and I cherish every moment I get to spend with them on and off the field. The children at Liberty reminded me that no matter what obstacles you face in life, the people that help you through them are the most important. Thanks to Professionals Without Borders I not only explored a new country, but I was reminded of the priorities I want to uphold throughout my life.”

RENAE RUSSELL: “Going to Belize was an amazing experience that I will remember forever. Being at the Liberty Children's Home and playing with the kids was definitely eye-opening. The kids there have a lot less than what we have here in America, yet everyday they would be outside playing with huge smiles on their faces. Our group stayed overnight at the orphanage for the first two nights and then we moved to a house down the street for the remainder of our stay. We slept in one of the dorms that was across from the kids dorms, and I will never forget the second night, when we could hear the kids singing Miley Cyrus' ‘The Climb’ and Michael Jackson's ‘Man In The Mirror’. It helped me to realize that we do not need much to be happy. The main reason for our trip was to take down the old rusted gutters on one of the buildings and put new ones up. The gutters emptied the water into water storage tanks until they needed it. It felt so good when we finished, knowing that we contributed to helping the children's home. While we were working some of the kids would come over and help hand us tools and just hang out. We had a lot of time where we could play with the kids around the orphanage and we learned so much about each of them individually. When it came time to say goodbye to them at the end of the trip, we found ourselves at a loss for words; we could not express how much we were going to miss them and how much of an impact they had on us. The kids were wonderful and they all found ways to touch our hearts. 

There were also a few days where we were able to go experience some tourist attractions in Belize. On the first day, we visited the Mayan temples, and we spent the second day at the island Caye Caulker, where the water was crystal clear. One of the nights, the lady that runs the orphanage invited us to her beach house, which was absolutely amazing. Her house did not have electricity or running water, which was another new experience for me. On our last full day in Belize we went on a three-mile hike in a cave where we climbed up waterfalls and jumped down them into large pools of water; as scary as it was, I would most definitely do it again! 

Overall, Belize was absolutely amazing and I am so glad that I got to go. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to go again next year because I miss it already.”

Click here to see the photo gallery on

Click here to see the original article.


Christmas in Nicaragua

Posted by Lauren Rochholz on February 4, 2013 at 4:02 PM PST


Kimberly Friedrich-Feeley recounts PWOB's December trip to Nicaragua

After a brief hiatus, PWOB returned to Nicaragua in December of 2012. While PWOB’s third trip to Nicaragua, it was the first with its new community partner, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH). Led by PWOB member and Seattle University faculty Audrey Hudgins, the team of seven students and one staff member spent 10 days working alongside the young men and women of NPH Nicaragua, Casa Padre Wasson. 

Casa Padre Wasson, one of many NPH homes for youth in Latin America and the Carribean, serves approximately 250 children and adolescents, or peque
ños, from across Nicaragua. Nestled on a lush property near Jinotepe, Casa Padre Wasson is a haven for the youth that call it home. It took very little time for the PWOB team to recognize the strength and importance of the family that NPH Nicaragua has formed for its pequeños. To some it is the family they needed, to others, the family they’ve never had, one which the team was pleased to join—if only for 10 days.

From day one, the team got to work on its primary project: constructing a much-needed post and wire fence around a pasture for the compound’s herd of cattle. With help from a crew of machete-wielding pequeños, the perimeter was cleared and marked for digging. Armed with shovels and macanas, the PWOB crew worked side-by-side with the pequeños digging holes, tamping and placing posts, and stringing barbed wire. Many hands made for light work and the patient pequeños proved to be invaluable teachers for our unskilled group, helping make the project a huge success.  

Rest times were equally satisfying. When not working, the team spent time eating, playing, and socializing with the pequeños. Whether playing soccer, giggling, singing songs, or catching a quiet moment to chat, it was these personalized experiences which formed lasting memories for each member of the group.

After a rewarding first trip, we hope to continue partnering with NPH Nicaragua and look forward to future projects at Casa Padre Wasson. To learn more about Nuestros Peque
ños Hermanos International, please visit        

On the Ground In Zambia

Posted by Katherine McKenna on August 1, 2012 at 9:08 AM PDT

Cal Ihler shares his experiences in Zambia as they happen...

 June 30    

Mike and I have made it to the Chikuni Mission in was a long journey, but all is well. From the airport it was a three hour car ride to get here; we left Seattle on Thursday at 1pm and arrived at Chikuni on Saturday at 7:30pm. There is a nine hour time advance here, so at home it would be Saturday at.... Oh, you figure it out, I'm too tired! We will be adding photos over the next few days and are very glad to be here. 


 July 1    

Anyway, my first day here was really nice and I am appreciating everyone’s efforts. The locals do quite a bit of dancing to drum music and you know you are really in Africa. The weather is good and we got right into two plumbing projects, and we made some headway on both. First project: The hospital tanks project may work well (we want to re-utilize two abandoned large water tanks for the local hospital so they can have water throughout the day and open up a neo-natal unit but there are no parts available (it is holiday here) until Wednesday, and it is a 1 1/2 hour drive on really rough roads to the nearest plumbing supplier. It is amazing when thinking about the rarity of materials and the scarcity of them. Second project: We also dug up some piping for the Chikuni Mission compound and are looking for a cross connection that is contaminating the water to the houses here. We do have a plan that may work but it will depend on available materials and the time we are staying here. There are several other projects that are going on that I am not involved with. We are staying at the Jesuit compound, every morning we get a good breakfast and then have lunch and dinner at the Mukanzubo Cultural Center. The Jesuit compound is very clean and we have toilets and showers... and our own bedrooms!! These are really very nice facilities when compared to the PWOB Belize trip. The best part is I am not a leader and do not have to organize anything...hurray!!! 

Thank you all for your support of our PWOB efforts.


July 5 

Today went well, the hospital tank’s water supply line is connected and some water went into the tanks before we stopped work for the day. Tomorrow we will need to flush the two tanks we are bringing online and install a 2" valve to isolate the old tank. Materials here have been the toughest challenge but all here have a great attitude and it is nice to work with the Zambian people, they are so polite and friendly. (Mike is still looking for the "darkside" of the culture but hasn't been able to find anything... he keeps trying in his own socially gregarious ways :).) Another project we are working on is the water line cross connection for Mukanzubo; the water supply for the community is fed from an underground well (safe to drink water) and a local lake (bad to drink water). We are separating the two sources so the drinking and food water will be from the well and the irrigation water will be from the lake. There is another water tank that we are connecting a float to for automatic start/stop of the pump so it will not run all day. There are some humorous things that happen each day but I am probably too focused on the work to notice. At the end of each day we are very tired and appreciative for the team’s camaraderie and the good Zambian (cooked over a fire) food. 
We all are very grateful for everyone’s support of PWOBs efforts to help others.
Thank you all so much.


July 6 

 Hello Friends
 Another very productive day!!! Mike and I brought the two new hospital water storage tanks online…it took us  till 9pm and it was dark but we were successful! We also replaced a tub/shower fixture at the Jesuit house and repaired two water lines. All piping is very old here so you touch one thing and it leads into several other repairs along the way, and the challenge is to find parts! Several times I have gone to the “scrapyard” that has old parts and piping and searched for pieces of pipe or fittings… there are two local sources that may have old rusty parts that we can recondition to use, one is Father Gabriel’s work yard and the other is the hospital’s shipping storage container, some of these parts are buried under brush and haven’t been used for years but we are very glad to have access to them, it may take awhile to find the part but most of the time we have been lucky. We also have a Zambian plumber friend named Killian, he has been a great help to us, and he is tireless and very motivated. Steve and Byron went into town today and had to go to at least three stores to get simple plumbing parts, and electrical wire. By the way we also installed a start/stop float for the Mukanzubo community water tank and Byron did an excellent job of figuring out how to wire it without any diagrams! All is well. Thanks to all of you for your support!
Cal Ihler