Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Week in Nicaragua by Anya Conlon

We spent the past week in Nicaragua working with Vida ( We headed off from Palo Verde before dawn to arrive early in Granada. After a slight delay in Granada due to illness, we headed to Masaya where we met the doctors who would work with us in the community. The plan for our project was to go into the community and conduct health surveys at each household the first day. We would then spend a day synthesizing the data and identifying areas of most concern, and the following day come up with solutions to problems we identified. Finally, on the last day, we would bring these back to the community.
According to our wonderful lead doctor, Dr. Karen Herrera, the surveys we were doing were ones that the Ministry of Health tries to do regularly to ensure the health of people in rural communities. However, it is a practice that is difficult to maintain with limited personnel. Although our broken Spanish and frequent questions of clarification often made our presence seem more of a burden then anything else, it was nice to know that we were providing manpower for a cause in need of aid. It was an incredible thing to be a complete and obvious foreigner in the community and yet be welcomed openly into each house.
After collecting all of the data we had to synthesize and analyze it. In doing so we were able to identify common health concerns that appeared in the community. We found that dust and smoke posed serious health risks to all community members, as did water that sat in unclean containers. Diabetes was a large problem in the community as well. Once our concerns were identified it was time to plan. It was impressive to see how our group could work together and, with help with some of the logistics, come up with not one but three interventions in only a matter of hours.

My classmate Haylie Butler collecting trash with the schoolchildren of Los Manguitos, Masaya, Nicaragua (Picture Credit: Brenna Hynes)
On our fourth and final day, we returned to the community to present our solutions. We did a recycling activity with the children at the school, followed by home visits where we suggested the use of chlorine and boiling of water to ensure its cleanliness, and also presented a recipe using local produce to promote the consumption of healthy foods. Overall, our presence and suggestions were received very positively. Although a slightly skeptical feeling of the need to conduct repeated follow-ups haunted me, I left our short week in Nicaragua feeling very happy at what we had accomplished, grateful for the wonderful people we had the opportunity to work with, and hopeful that our efforts would make a positive impact on the community.

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