Hurricanes, typhoons, and flooding -- some of the extreme weather conditions that the finalists tackled in their projects -- upset the plans of several international competitors to come to the DM2009 competition in Washington.
The longest delay was encountered by Nidia Matamoros (photo at left), a member of the Miskito indigenous group in Nicaragua, whose home was flooded by Hurricane Ida. From start to finish, Matamoros logged 102 hours from the time the first leg of her flight was originally scheduled to leave Managua's airport -- Nov. 5 -- to her arrival at Reagan Washington National Airport at 1 a.m. Monday morning, Nov. 9.
'I'm proud, I'm excited, I'm happy," Matamoros said at the orientation session that opened the four-day DM2009 program Monday afternoon. "This is the first time the Miskito communities have participated so fully in such an event."
Summing up her marathon journey, Matamoros said, "It's too much. I need a siesta."
The project she's working would would establish Maya Nut "food forests" in Miskito communities to produce up to 5 million pounds of food worth US$3 million to improve the nutrition of as many as 2,500 Miskito children. It would also restore wild game, including deer and fish, and protect 30 miles of rivers from flooding and erosion.
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Philippines finalist Eugenio Manalo decided not to accompany his project's team to Washington so he could stay behind and work on relief for those hit by four typhoons in the late summer and early fall that caused extensive flooding and loss of life.
Belize finalist Lisel Alamilla, facing poor road conditions in the southern part of her country, had to arrange for a flight via a chartered single-engine Cessna from Punta Gorda to Belize City's airport to get her connecting flight to Miami. She produced a handwritten receipt for reimbursement.