Nicaragua Up Close


Nick Varrell, a criminal justice major graduating this December, recently bought a small plot of land in a rural town in Nicaragua called Ochomogo, with the intention of moving there within the next year. His interest in Nicaragua began his freshman year at Roanoke College, when he participated in the alternative spring break trip led by Jesse Griffin, who works in the Center for Civic Engagement. Ever since that first week in Ochomogo, Nick knew that Nicaragua and its people had taken hold of a little piece of his heart. He describes them as his family and has visited them several times since, both independently and on subsequent trips with Jesse.

This past January, Nick returned to Ochomogo armed with materials and labor to build a small church for the local villagers. With this gesture, his presence in Ochomogo became accepted. Therefore, one month ago, Nick and his family traveled to Ochomogo to look for land that he could buy. He ended up buying almost 2 acres of land near the site of his first stay in Ochomogo. For a college student, this is an amazing feat.

Nick’s primary purpose in moving to Ochomogo is to start a new branch of an organization, named Strong Missions, in the village. In particular, he wants to extend the United Methodist Mission, which works to holistically reduce poverty through the construction/renovation of churches and houses, feeding and education programs, and sustainable infrastructure development. His passion for social justice is unsurpassed and he hopes to be able to keep making a difference in the small village of Ochomogo.