Guest Blogger: Gabriela Arias. Alex Ferraro (first year, 2012), is sitting right in front of me making a friendship bracelet after a strenuous week in the field and the clinic. Actually, all of us are-it has become our outlet this last day to relax and wind down. This past week has been intense, from walking steep slopes all over Chaguite to finding ways to tell residents that we cannot see any more people at the clinic. It has been tough, it has been challenging, but with absolute certainty, I think this trip has helped us find the path we want to follow, if not, at least the direction we want to head. Everyone has contributed beyond their part to make sure that everything ran smoothly and everyone offered thoughtful insights when crucial problems forced us to make important decisions.
Each day we would head back to the hotel, dirty and sweaty, thirsty and hungry, but ready to dive into planning for the next day and make sure the transfer of information for the next team was complete and accurate. We visited almost all the houses in Chaguite and attended almost every patient at the clinic each day, with our two doctors helping us meet our goals at every turn. Moreover, the first year members were so awesome! Michael Cammarata (first year, 2012) practiced an innumerable amount of times to make sure he was taking blood pressure correctly (and with his 1970s charm, helped us interview residents). Jill Olsewski (2012) put all her effort in each of her tasks even though she had some language barriers-that never fazed her and she continued to march forward regardless. Julie Sangimino (2013), as the youngest team member, loved the field and quickly learned the necessary GPS skills to track down residents and identify key landmarks at each house (while sporting a warrior’s scar after an intense soccer match). Jake Brody (2012), quickly put his Spanish skills to great use by attending patients in triage and by stalking residents in Chaguite to interview them (and now he has an amazing hipster look). And Alex Ferraro absorbed information like a sponge, adapting her Spanish to the Nicaraguan tone and taking great initiatives while in the field and clinic-we put her as a clinic coordinator for the first time and she did amazing (she knows the true meaning of chronic toz).
Since collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the mayor went well, accessing the population in Cuje was much easier this year, but overall, the preparation beforehand while we were still in The Burg, undoubtedly made this year’s project a triumph. Now, the returning members, Ruby Victoria Langesly, Molly Rose Copeland, Soyoung Hwang, Margaret Vimont Summers, and the first years mentioned above, have a lot to work to do once we get back; we have to analyze all the data we collected this week and start planning for next year (yep, this early). Profe will be with us, directing us and challenging us each step of the way, as he did this year during our project. But overall, it is the kind of work we all welcome and are actually excited to take on. The road ahead will be full of turns and twists, but after traversing the paths in Chaguite, we got this.