Stopping briefly in San Salvadore, we will arrive in Managua, Nicaragua early in the afternoon of March 3rd. “We” are the advance team, traveling ahead of the MANOS project crew that will host the free medical clinic and conduct field research in the district of Cuje, Nicaragua. This is our fifth year, and we are prepared better than ever before. If things go as planned, we will lay the foundation for a new phase of our work. The field work this year will focus on preparing for a formal planning process to be done in May when a small team returns. We hope that the planning effort will yield a formal agreement between the community of Chaguite and MANOS that will detail a five-year plan that includes 3-5 goals, the associated objectives, a clear time line for achieving objectives, and a method for monitoring our work together.
In the meantime, our clinic will once again depend heavily on our contract with Dr. Roger Martinez of the San Francisco Clinic in Managua. Each year, Dr. Roger travels with us to Cuje and provides medical consultations to the residents. This year, we are joined by an American volunteer, Dr. John Showalter, an internist from Knoxville, Tennessee (who, incidentally, is my nephew!) In addition, Dr. Valia Colindres Maldonado, a Nicaraguan physician — and, incidentally team member Lester Chavez’s aunt — will volunteer as a medical provider. We anticipate an experiment using individual medical records, but that project will take shape only as we continue consultations with local authorities and medical staff at the municipal clinic. We are hopeful that the individual records can contribute to local efforts to keep track of individual patient information — all towards the goal of providing more continuous medical care.
The advance team includes Gabriela Arias, fourth year team member and “in-country” coordinator; Soyoung Hwang, third-year team member and clinic coordinator; Michael Cammarata, second-year team member; and Yardley Albarracin, first-timer! We will travel as quickly as possible to Cuje to meet with local leaders and to ensure that information about the clinic is distributed throughout this vast and sparsely populated region. We’ll also pick up the medicine that we purchase in the clinic where Dr. Roger works, and transport the medicine to Ocatal, where we stay.
The full team arrives on Saturday — and not a minute too soon. We have scheduled a formal meeting with local community leaders for Sunday, and there are medications to count, sort, and organize in advance of the clinic. For some (Yardley, Jess Yon, Lester, Jacklyn Goldschmidt, and Chrissy Sherman) this will be the first project trip to Nicaragua. Lester Chavez is a bit of an exception: he is from Nicaragua, so clearly, this won’t be a brand new experience for him!
We hope that you’ll follow the blog in the coming days as I report from Nicaragua. If we get very imaginative, other team members likely will contribute to the running account.
Thanks for reading.