Health was the main focus of our spring break project in Nicaragua. It consisted of everything from attending forwardHEALTH generation classes, helping at the new Cedro Galán clinic, visiting children at the Villa Guadalupe Child Sponsorship program, and spreading the word about our community health fair held at the end of the week. We got to see and do a wide variety of things throughout our time in the country. The forwardHEALTH generation class was a huge eye-opener for us. It was amazing to see the motivation and determination that these children had to learn about health. We could not even imagine high school children in the US giving up a Sunday night to learn about health. Seeing the drive these kids had helped us refocus our life goals and aspirations.
In addition, we assisted the Program Directors at the Cedro Galán clinic. It was both a rewarding and empowering experience. Seeing the members of the community appreciate the excellent service of the clinic at a very low cost was promising in the clinic's development. From the patients who visited the clinic, we were able to notice that the easy access to healthcare has positively influenced the community. Although many of the things provided in the clinic are services that we often take for granted in America, it means a great deal to the community to have access to affordable, quality health care.
The health fair we put together was an amazing way for us as students to promote healthcare and reach out to the community on a more personal level. Interacting with the children and their parents was such a rewarding experience--we essentially set up ten stations with basic health facts and lifestyle skills, where each had a game to go along with it for the children. We promoted hand-washing, vaccinations, exercise, and healthy eating while playing games that creatively related to each of these areas of health and more. The health fair was a success mainly because we were able to reach the children in the community who can retain this information and live by it. In this way, early education to the children can ultimately better the community. The health fair was also a success because the community had never had anything like this before and there was a great turnout. The community often has trouble getting people to attend these sort of things and through advertising in the community we were able to get people to attend. Their face lite up with joy, and everyone really enjoyed the fair. Seeing the smiles on their faces and knowing that we provided them with positive health information was really rewarding. Overall our trip to Nicaragua was unforgettable. Through connecting with the lives of the community members, improving our Spanish skills, and making bonds with other volunteers, we were able to truly make an impact with Manna.
A special note to our wonderful PDs: We couldn't have asked for any better when it came to our PDs Nicole and Erica! They made us feel right at home upon our arrival. Joking with us about how the PDs came up with designated shirt days for the week, getting competitive with some catch-phrase, and hanging out at the Laguna were fun times that we won't forget! We also can't forget the immense passion in both of them, it was quite contagious and they have many of us already planning on our next trip and even considering summer vol and PD options. Without them our trip would not have been as fun or successful, thanks so much guys! You will both be amazing doctors one day :)