Farmington native Kailie Gulino is excited about changing the world – at least, changing the world for a small community of people she’s come to love in Nicaragua.
Gulino, a sophomore at Johnson State College and 2011 Farmington High School graduate, spent her February break last year working on a service project in the town and this year plans to return as a co-leader of the trip.
She goes through a national project called Break Away.
“We go out during February break and do community service and people apply and don’t know where they’re going,” Gulino said by phone recently. “This year I’m co-leading the trip to Nicaragua to work on clean water solutions.”
The work began last year, with Gulino’s first trip and Break Away has committed to continue it to completion after five years.
The goal is to bring clean water – once an impossibility – to the small village.
“It’s really hard to describe how awesome it is,” Gulino said. “It’s definitely a culture shock to see people living without something we have.”
On the island, all the water comes from a volcano. The work involves channeling the water through a pipe and installing faucets in the villagers’ homes.
Gulino describes little children who no longer have trek miles to reach water.
“’Now I have this water, I don’t have to walk all the way down to the lake to wash in dirty water,’” she explained.
In 2012, Gulino’s team connected more than 200 people, with 43 faucets in a week. This year, they hope to do more.
“Last year, we ran out of tools. This year we want to make sure we have more tools, better stuff and are really going in full force to get everything connected,” she said.
To meet the need, Gulino is holding a fundraiser Oct. 13 from 11:30 to 3 p.m. at the East Farmington Fire Department. No tickets are needed.
“The fundraiser we’re doing not only to raise money but also to raise awareness. Everyone knows people don’t have clean water but first-hand experiences change things,” Gulino said.
The fundraiser will feature 31 Bags available for sale and a raffle from local businesses, including Naples, Sparkles, Truffles and many others. There will also be foods native to Nicaraguan foods, including beans and rice and Spanish desserts, as well as little sandwiches.
Gulino will share information about the trip, with a slideshow about Break Away and Nicaragua.
Though Gulino spoke some Spanish and her companions very little, the residents they were helping had no problem communicating their gratitude.
“We learned the power of a smile down there. Everyone was so caring, so thankful and at the end they threw a party for us. Little girls did a dance and they all dressed up – it was beautiful. They’re just really appreciative for everything they have.”
The East Farmington Volunteer Fire Department is at 94 South Road, Farmington.