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Mission of Hope

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

By Bonnie Black
Our morning meeting was less than 15 minutes as we had much to do, quite early. Going to La Churaca was a small group to deliver 5 boxes of CMMB medicines for the clinic there as well as conduct contemporaneous projects: Judy Charland & Marcel Charland (for the moringa project), Roger Patnode with Kayla Rabideau (for lead and anemia testing) along with Liz Chaskey, Cathy Hill, Sara Fredette, Dan Ladue, Kayleigh Garrand, Karissa Monette. They met up with the Manna Project volunteers to coordinate the lead and anemia test group for 1 to 8 year olds. Manna runs an educational nutrition program for families in this section called “La Chureca” which accepts children due to poor nutrition assessments and requires their parent(s) to attend sessions on proper nutrition for the family.

La Chureca is the local term for the section of the Managua Dump officially called the Los Martinez Barrio. There are approximately 190 families in this section – about 1000 residents, 53% of which are under 18. It is northeast of the city and receives 4.5 million tons of waste according to a University engineering study. The decomposing of the trash attracts lice, rats and mosquitoes which contribute to the health problems. The burning of the trash contributes to the respiratory illnesses and parasite as well as other contagious infections abound. Not only do these families have medical issues and live in squalor and poverty, but they are also marginalized by society. About 25% of the population has a 4th-6th grade education but the vast majority receives none at all. There is a central school there with about 200 students ages 4 through 15. Families work 24 hours a day processing the trash with various families assigned to designated areas. In April of 2005, there was lead and anemia testing done on 16 children with 2 being negative for either, 11 in the mid-range for lead and 3 in the high range. This morning our team drew 40 specimens and hope to have another 15-20 specimens by this evening from the clinic. If any test is high, we will re-test those children in February. Meanwhile, there will be a public health investigation (or at least the clinic will try to investigate environmental issues such as where their family works in the Dump (collecting batteries?) and where their house is located (old paint cans around it?) and where are they in relation to the actual burning and dense smoke.

This morning, while waiting for the Rice & Beans truck to take them out, Bailey Rabideau and Jordan Donahue taught themselves how to juggle! But, alas, the truck came and they need to join the others: Dennis Kaufman, Marilyn Knutson and Julie Fredette.

I don’t believe I have mentioned it yet, but the parasite medications we are giving the young children during our trip are donated by King Pharmaceuticals. This morning more children received the medications and were measured and weighed by: Nancy Scanlan, Joe Lewis, Darcy Rabideau, Danielle Hamilton and Jenn Stitzinger.

This morning’s Home Shelter crew built a second home donated by Beekmantown Central School and one provided with funds from Barbara Gordon and her grandson, Jordan Guay, and family: Connie Tyska, Lauren Recny, Shawney Bushey and Kasey Garrand.

At Parajito Azul Disability Center all day were Beverly Gogola, Brenda Flynn and Christina Gehrig. They stayed long enough today to see Hector, a favorite of all of the travelers who have been there since the beginning. He suffers from osteogenesis, but is an intelligent young man with a good sense of humor.

Our Kitchen Crew for today was Mary Fredette, Abe Munn, Sue Black and Elle Rathbun. Feeding our 38 for breakfast and then almost 50 for lunch each day keeps our staff quite busy. You see, we also feed the locals who are on the home shelter crew, too.

I can’t forget our BBB crew that each day winds up with more and more to do, due to the water situation. They spend time in the afternoon, while assigned to other projects, as the bucket brigade bringing it into the bathrooms and into the kitchen to supply us all with enough with which to cook and at least give ourselves a quick wipe with a facecloth. The way we are looking at this shortage is – everyone’s got the problem! We were told that this entire region is having water issues, although we know there is water in the cisterns. It is limited at the convent, in the school and in our Nicasa even though the cisterns have water. This morning, Sister Rosa even had the local fire department come to fill two of the cisterns. The fire department charges $40 per cistern and is finding themselves in this ‘business’ due to the water situation throughout the region. Today’s BBB crew was Julie Fredette, Darcy Rabideau, Jenn Stitzinger, Dennis Kaufman and Joe Lewis.

Donations were received today by San Jose Hospital from Diriamba. Oscar Flores met their truck this morning at his brother-in-law’s house to advise in the loading of CMMB donated medications into the truck for the hospital. Sister Ligia came the other day to get some of the boxes from Nicasa and will return to make use of the medications which will expire before our return in February.

Later in the morning, Diane Crosier and Bill Calmbacher went to the Red Cross and to Caritas where Sister Debbie met them with Mauricio Flores. Diane, Bill and Oscar remained there in one of the buildings all afternoon (there are also two containers filled with our last shipment). They returned around 5:30pm with two pickups filled with boxes which will be more intensely sorted here for donating to local hospitals and clinics.

There were two homes constructed this afternoon: One donated by Kay Papin (Mary Fredette’s sister-in-law) in memory of Francis and Anna Fredette. Francis was Mary’s father-in-law and Kay’s father; he was a carpenter. The other home was donated by Rick and Linda Pickering in memory of her father Marcel Bechard who also was a carpenter.

Sara Fredette had the assistance of Abe Munn on the data entry this afternoon while she also ran the tests from the lead and anemia samples taken this morning at La Chureca.

A painting crew headed out to Nejapa school this afternoon to do a few more classrooms and the clinic area where Dr. Lopez sees patients on Fridays: Julie Fredette, Judy Charland, Jordan Donahue, Shawney Bushey, Kayleigh Garrand, Dan Ladue and Bailey Rabideau.

Our chalkboard painting crew in the upper primary classrooms at Nino today were Lauren Recny, Dennis Kaufman, Kasey Garrand and Jenn Stitzinger.

Our afternoon Rice & Beans crew got out a little late due to no transportation, but they kept their spirits up while waiting and journaling. Finally, they departed at 2:15PM with Magaly (who occupied herself with office work)…Darcy Rabideau, Roger Patnode, Connie Tyska, Karissa Monette, Kayla Rabideau, Liz Chaskey and Joe Lewis.

Late in the afternoon, Cathy Hill and Marilyn Knutson resumed the inventory of the medicines we brought, allocating them to the various designated locations in the courtyard for pickup tomorrow and Friday.

Sister Debbie has a request from the Archbishop to provide 50 or more latrines in the Las Guerreros and the El Trapiche region; Bonnie and Marty will be contacting Rotary International to see if 10 of the 150 under the current grant approved for Chiquilistagua could be constructed in that area instead. He also requested that we consider building 50 home shelters in this higher elevation as people are subject to the cold. Sister will be looking into this possibility further.

The good news she got today is that the generators are being released and Mauricio will be bringing them to Nicasa tomorrow.

When talking to Father Raul at Nejapa, he told Sister that they are considering a professional security firm rather than a ‘local’ hire. This would cost more, but he and the sisters believe it would be more secure in the long run. More on this over the next few days as it develops!

Late this afternoon while home crew and rice & beans were still out – as was Nejapa – those of who had returned to Nicasa decided to take advantage of the downpour by grabbing shampoo and conditioner using the rain pouring off of the roof to freshen our hair – and sometimes even more of ourselves!

After dinner when the rain increased and there was thunder and lightning in addition, Sister Debbie decided that after Mass, everyone could enjoy a night to themselves rather than trying to hold a meeting. So, the cards were broken out and many people enjoyed their flashlight lit spaces in groups of 2 to 6 people. Others journalled or sat in small groups in the dining room, their bunk rooms or in the foyer. Just near 7pm, a group of locals with guitars came over and joined Joe Lewis on his newly-acquired handmade guitar for a light evening of song which was enjoyed by all – while Darcy Rabideau and Sara Fredette planned the duty board for tomorrow. I have been remiss in not noting that these two have done phenomenal work every night, completing the task in less than 2 hours. Speed team!!

Hasta manana!


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