SSHS grad readies for humanitarian trip

Cody Reed will add Nicaragua to her list of globe-trotting adventures

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Life has taken Cody Reed far from home.

In the past three years, Reed got used to not having hot water. Sometimes, she had no running water at all. She killed her own dinner. She was mugged three times. She overcame a serious bacterial infection in a foreign country. She learned to speak Swahili.

They are life experiences one likely would not associate with a petite, 21-year-old blonde.

Since graduating from Steamboat Springs High School in 2000, Reed has attended Earlham College in Richmond, Ind. She spent the summer of 2001 studying in Honduras and Costa Rica. In 2002, she spent her fall semester in Kenya.

Now, Reed is preparing for a humanitarian trip to Jinotepe, Nicaragua. She is leaving May 29, and plans to stay for the summer.

"(My friends) always laugh when I tell them I'm going on another adventure," Reed said.

Her interest in travel and international affairs began in high school. Now, she is pursuing a double major in economics and international studies with a focus on international development.

In Jinotepe, Reed will be teaching English, computers and dance at a school for 11- to 19-year-olds. She also hopes to work on a writing and photography project that was inspired by an African book, "Shootback." The book is composed of pictures Nairobian children took with donated cameras. They were told to take pictures of their lives.

Reed hopes she will receive enough donations to be able to do a similar project with her students in Jinotepe.

Reed is paying for her own travels and accommodations in Nicaragua. Last summer, she worked three jobs to save the money.

"Development agencies do not have a lot of money, and what money they do have is not going to pay for interns to come," Reed said.

But she thinks it is worth it. Reed said she has enjoyed traveling to Third World countries.

"There is a shared level of humanity," Reed said. "They were all very welcoming, but at the same time you can see that they're struggling."

During part of her trip to Kenya, Reed said she had to walk an hour to the river to fill an old gas can with water. But she recalled the unpleasant living conditions with no regret.

"You're in a mud hut with a fire in the middle and you cry yourself to sleep next to the smoke," she said.

In Kenya, most meals consisted of boiled spinach and a cornmeal paste that Reed compared to grits left in the fridge overnight. Sometimes there was meat, and Reed got a chance to kill and prepare chickens.

"You take a dull knife and cut off their heads, and stick them in boiling water so the feathers come off easier," she said.

At first, the different way of living was difficult.

"In Kenya my first week hit me pretty hard," she said. She got a bacterial infection from the food and blacked out three times. When she returned to her host family's house from the hospital, she found some of her belongings had been stolen.

She also was mugged three times.

"They never got anything, I fought back," she said.

Still, the good experiences far outweighed the bad.

Once, while staying with a Kenyan family, one of their sons became ill. The family didn't have enough money to take him to the hospital. But he was getting so sick that Reed insisted on taking him herself. The boy had a serious case of malaria, and the medication cost $12.

"I just saved his life for $12. I mean, what is that? A meal in the U.S.," she said. "It was amazing."

Reed hopes she will be able to have a positive impact on the school in Jinotepe. She plans to bring as few personal belongings as possible, so she can pack more school supplies for the Nicaraguan students.

Reed still is accepting donations for her trip. She can be reached at 870-6061.



-- To reach Erin Ragan, call 871-4232

or e-mail intern@steamboatpilot.com

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