A Man on a Mission The story of Rob Kraus' life changing experience working in the slums of Nicaragua

Photo courtesy of Rob Kraus

Rob Kraus grew up in the town Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, never dreaming that he would find himself in the slums of Nicaragua building concrete houses by hand. Kraus is a successful entrepreneur who has owned and sold multiple businesses. His father, also a successful businessman, ventured to Nicaragua with a friend who was trying to find purpose for her life after the death of her son. After having a life changing experience, his father encouraged him to go on a trip himself.

Rob Kraus went to Nicaragua six times with a charity organization called Bridges to Community, also making two trips to Nairobi, Kenya. Kraus said that the Nairobi slum is the second largest slum in the world taking up a space the size of central park filled with over two million people. When going to Nicaragua, he would fly into the only airport in Nicaragua, Managua, and then drive into the villages. He would stay for weeks at a time in the villages taking bucket showers and sleeping in tents. While there, he would build concrete houses and schools which he said were like palaces for the people who live there. He was a part of building over twenty houses and two schools over his six trips.

Photo courtesy of Rob Kraus

The main reason Kraus went was because he thought that he was helping the helpless, but the contrary happened. The people there helped him as much as he did them. He explained, “The children there have nothing and never have a reason to cry. In our society, kids will go to a store and cry because they didn’t get a toy they wanted. The kids there have more gratitude towards a piece of candy than you would ever imagine.” Most of the people living there had never seen a picture of them, so Kraus would bring a camera to show them. The kids would have a smile that stretched from ear to ear as they focused intently on each aspect of their face.

Photo courtesy of FMSC Distribution Center

Each time Kraus made the trip to Nicaragua, he would go to the same village. After years separated at a time, the people would remember him exactly each time he showed up. Kraus explained how much he really loved the people, “I could barely leave each trip because you wouldn’t know if you would ever see them again. I would cry like a baby each time I left because while you're leaving to go back to your normal life, they struggle every day just to live.” Kraus built a very special relationship with a boy who had a tumor on his leg. Once Kraus and his father found out that the tumor was cancerous, they paid the medical expenses for the boys chemotherapy. Kraus said,” I got a call a few years later that the cancer had spread and the boy had died” as he began to tear up.”

Each experience in Nicaragua left a greater impact on his life. Kraus began to appreciate everything he had and take things slower in life. He began to tell a story, “I was driving to work one day when I realized I was tailgating someone. I stopped and thought to myself, what am I doing. Here I was rushing to get to work being selfish taking life for granted.” It made a tremendous impact on every aspect of his life from is generosity and for other to living life to the fullest each day you are given the opportunity.

Photo courtesy of Rob Kraus

Kraus explained that the people living there had nothing in their life but they appreciated everything they had. Kraus explained his most memorable moment, “I took about 20 of my employees to Nicaragua for a team building experience and before we left, the villagers put on a show with dancing and singing to thank us for everything we had done for them. I'll never forget that moment”.

Rob Kraus really appreciated the fact the he could donate money to a charity and see first hand that the money was being put to use for a cause he supported. He believes that everyone should take the time to reflect back on the things we take for granted everyday and appreciate everything you have in life.

Photos courtesy of Rob kraus

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