Every morning, the three sisters Julia, Yulissa and Kenya climb into their dugout in order to row to school. They live on the east coast of Nicaragua, one of the world’s poorest countries, and the youngest of them has just turned five; the oldest is nine. They row across the Rio Escondido. Not only is it one of the largest rivers in the country, it is simultaneously one of the most dangerous routes to school. While they have to watch out for snakes lurking in the trees over the river, the three sisters also struggle against the current and must ensure the dugout does not fill up with water – because it has multiples holes and could sink at any minute.
Other classmates do not necessarily have it easier, because they live far from the river, and their journey to school takes them through the deep jungle. One of these classmates is 11-year-old Greyven. His daily trip takes him through the so-called ‘snake field’, in which coral snakes and the infamous boa constrictor reside. On the way to school, the rain drives the snakes from the empty coconuts on the ground; on the way back the afternoon heat, which is over 35 degrees, means that they are lively and belligerent.
The daily journey – ashore and to water – to San Mariano’s small village school is an adventure almost unimaginable to us. Every time they undertake this trip, the children expose themselves to life-threatening dangers, all for the chance to have a better future.