Gabriela Arias (3rd year) manages in-country logistics – and cultural relations – with grace and charm. In many ways, she is the face of the project — a warm and inviting smile, reassuring everyone of our determination to understand and to be accountable for our consequences, and not settle for good intentions. Jackie Ramirez (3rd year), clinic coordinator, brings gravitas to the enterprise, reminding us at every turn of the seriousness of our work, the need to be mindful of impressions and sensitive in every interaction. Always attentive, she notes both the discomfort and the humiliation of a worn-out shoe and takes matters into her own hands, finding a way to get new shoes for a six-year-old boy without embarrassing his mother. I write this hoping that Jackie won’t mind my sharing information that even others in the team don’t know.
Molly Blumgart (3rd year and co-leader), the invisible maestro, works quietly behind the scenes, ensuring that details are attended, that individual talents are optimized, that the team functions as a team. She can play any role, and does routinely in the course of our daily work – often with Molly Copeland (2nd year) close beside diligently tracking the budget, plotting and planning on how to use team funds – and, often more importantly, how to get access to them in a part of the country not accustomed to accepting either checks or ATM cards. The “leadership team” has been and is extraordinary.
The field research team met with the mayor of Totagalpa today. The former director of the medical clinic, Dr. Lopez has become a good friend and greets us warmly in his office in the small town that serves as the seat of the municipality. It is clear that our questions are well-grounded and that the mayor appreciates both our work at the clinic and the approach that we take beyond the clinic. He offers unconditional support for our work now and for our anticipated return this summer.
Throughout the week, Ashley Ingram (2nd year) has organized field research efforts, from planning, to training in GPS technology, to plotting tracks to organize interview schedules. Her work is meticulous and technically sound. In our pre-trip planning, we hoped that we might get interviews in half of the houses in Chaguite. (The mountainous region is so sparsely populated that it seemed unlikely that we could cover the area more efficiently.) At mid-week, we have past the mid-point; there is a chance that we will complete interviews in nearly every house in the community. If we succeed, it will be in no small part because of Ashley’s extraordinary leadership.
Marge Summers (3rd year) and Soyoung Hwang (2nd year), co-ministers of irrepressibility, urge the team forward in ways that are both subtle and profound. Team energy is not easy to sustain – especially among those accustomed to regular naps. Each in her way sustains momentum and keeps the team at a proper edge.
The clinic continues to run efficiently and effectively and we avoid turning away a single patient. While we cannot always provide all of the necessary medication, at least we can provide a medical consultation for all of those who come – many of whom have walked for hours to see a doctor. Our clinic coordinator of the day today was Ruby Langeslay (2nd year), who admitted more than a little anxiety at the responsibility of the task. The role is demanding, with patients sometimes insistent and urgent to ensure that they and their families will have an opportunity to be seen. It is clear that Ruby was more than equal to the task: not only was everyone seen, but the clinic day finished early and the majority of the team returned to Ocotal in time for a little well-earned time off.