(Scott Finlayson is a Rayo de Sol employee in Nicaragua)
In May of 2017, I left my job in Midtown, Atlanta doing digital marketing to start working for Rayo de Sol. I enjoyed my previous job, but it wasn’t something I was very passionate about, and I’ve felt for a while that God was leading me towards work in a nonprofit ministry. When I heard about Rayo, it immediately checked off several boxes of things I was looking for:
- A nonprofit specializing in poverty alleviation and community development
- Based out of Atlanta in the U.S. (where I lived), but located in Nicaragua, (where I had already spent a summer doing an internship with another NGO)
- An approach that works with community members to empower them and preserve their dignity rather than simply providing handouts and creating unhealthy dependence/one-way relationships
- The opportunity to work with children and youth in high-risk areas
- A focus not just on physical needs, but on spiritual needs as well
From May to December of 2017, I worked for Rayo in Atlanta, maintaining the donor database and helping to plan a fundraising event. Then on January 1st of this year I made the move to Matagalpa to join our field staff.
I’m renting a small apartment from a sweet older lady named Alicia who loves to watch cheesy soap operas on television and also WWE wrestling matches. Her 17-year-old grandson, Darwin, has been my Matagalpa tour guide, and the two of them have welcomed me into their family with open arms.
Work with Rayo is off to a pretty great start as well. My official title is Discipleship & Scholarship Coordinator. I work with another Rayo employee, Martha Cortedano, to run our children’s Bible teaching program as well as our partnership with Young Life- an organization that shares the gospel with middle and high schoolers through camps, fun weekly meetings, and one on one mentorship/discipleship.
Nicaraguans are some of the most faith-filled people I have ever met, but there’s also a lot of cultural Christianity, similar to the southern United States. Sometimes church is something to do because it’s what families have always done, but it’s more a list of rules rather than a relationship with a loving Father. On top of that, many of the kids near our office come from rough neighborhoods and have heartbreaking family situations, so having mature Christian role models is critical.
I also help run our high school and university scholarship program. Public schools here are technically free, but many children have to drop out to provide for their families. Over 50% of primary students drop out before completing 6th grade, so we do what we can to remove the obstacles to education that exist.
Although there’s a lot of brokenness here (as there is anywhere else in the world that you find humans), there’s a lot of good as well. Just being here about two months, I’ve already met so many amazing community leaders, teachers, students, and parents that are working for the good of Nicaragua. Rayo de Sol does an amazing job of coordinating these resources as well as bringing in teams from the U.S. that partner in these community development efforts in ways that are healthy for both parties. I feel very blessed to be a part of it all, and I’m very excited to see what else God has in store!