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Managua, Nicaragua
I'm participating in a month-long medical trip to Nicaragua, so I'd like to use this blog to document all of my experiences abroad and keep everyone at home in touch!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 9

Bright and early this morning we headed toward San Juan de Oriente, a small community outside of Masaya where we will set up our next clinic. Just like La Concha, poverty in San Juan is endemic. The communities themselves, however, are very different. Although the people in La Concha are poor, their production and sale of fruits leaves them with a relatively steady income. The people of San Juan do not have such fertile land. Rather, the majority must depend on the sale of ceramics and other unique crafts. I have never experienced poverty like this.
Upon arriving at one of the local Christian churches in San Juan, we were introduced to the pastor and a few of his local followers. We split up into groups of two and were led by them throughout the community to conduct health/sanitation surveys and invite the sick to our clinic. Not a single home of the several I visited had electricity, a flushing toilet, or running water. Many of the homes had eight to twelve people living in them and were never more than one or maybe two rooms (one of which served as a work room for the ceramic pieces). Some of the houses were partially made from cement, but the majority were crafted from metal scraps with a dirt floor.

As we walked the streets of San Juan, one of the other students and I noticed several small children playing soccer. We split off from our group when we weren’t needed to talk with them. They immediately welcomed us into their game with smiling faces and asked us a plethora of questions as to what we were doing in their community. A little girl standing on the sidelines with her small dog waived to me, so I decided I should let the boys have their fun and went over to her. Within minutes, a few of her brothers and sisters came up beside me. Her twelve-year old brother, realizing we were on some sort of mission trip, asked me if we were Christians. After responding with yes, his face lit up and he reached for the small wooden cross he carried in his pocket. He begged me to meet his mother, a woman of Christ.
The little girl grabbed my hand, so I followed them down the street. Their mother, a woman who looked entirely too small and fragile to have given birth to the children, appeared before me and welcomed me with open arms into the home. They excitedly took me to the back of the house where I saw nestled in the corner a dog with a tiny littler of six or seven newborn puppies. They showed me how they make the pottery and the mother offered to give one to me. Despite the uncertainty of whether they would eat that night, they were all full of hope, joy, and generosity! I left the family with an odd mixture of great happiness and sadness. I don’t know why this particular family touched me so deeply, but they did. I later returned to the home to buy a small piece of pottery that I will treasure from this point forward.
After finishing our work in San Juan in the mid afternoon, Dr. Cerrato took us to Apoyo lagoon where we saw a breathtakingly beautiful view of the water. Afterward, we went on a flat bottom boat tour of Lake Nicaragua, the largest body of water in the country. Listening to my Lala’s advice, I double-checked that there were enough life jackets for everyone onboard. We saw a small island with a group of monkeys. They came up close to the boat and we were able to feed them mangos and bananas. Tomorrow we will open the clinic in San Juan at 7 am!

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