Monday, March 03, 2008

The (Final?) Postcard from Nicaragua

Nicaragua: Champigny
Originally uploaded by Laura Dunn-Mark

Another eye-opening note from an incredible woman:

Greetings From Jinotega Nicaragua,

It is the end of my two weeks in Nicaragua, and although I have said this about nearly every other country I have visited, I am smitten. This time though its different. I have seen very little of the country yet I feel as though I have seen it through the eyes of the Nicaraguenses I have had the privilige of meeting and working with. Their vision of what their country is and could be is well beyond anything I could gleam from a simple visit to the local tourist spots.

In the span of two weeks I have learned about humanity, about giving and about need...real need. We saw roughly about 600 children over the span of two weeks. Most of them suffered from colds, asthma, scabies, lice and all the other ailments that are a part of living with poverty. Some children were better off then others but all suffered from lack of good medical services. The parents also needed care but there were was only so much we could do with the medications we had brought and those that we purchased in town.

With the exception of the beautiful children we served everyday, one of the most impactful things about these two weeks was the teams ability to pull together and do what needed to be done. A group of strangers came together and put aside their geographic, cultural and emotional differences for a greater cause. The common goal was to provide medical care but in the long run the medical care was only the tip of the iceberg. More often than not we found ourselves digging into our pockets for the family that came from the hills so that they could have a good meal before they rode 4 hours back home. For the child who needed glasses but the only way they could be bought was through the donations of each one of us that volunteered for the clinic. For the woman who had been maimed by her husband and was unable to work to provide for her children because she had no hands. After a while buying that souvenir became irrelevant if it meant you may not have enough money to buy a meal for someone or pitch in for something as basic as a bed to sleep in or a stove to cook on. In the end, the act of giving, in whatever form it presented itself became the focus.

These two weeks have been a rollercoaster ride. As a firefighter I have grown used to detaching myself from every situation so that I can be more effective. In the fire service we function under the belief that we did not create the problem, we are just there to fix it. In the clinic I found it very difficult to detach myself from the feelings that washed over me every day that we walked into a room full of beautiful children waiting to be treated. The opportuinity to be a part of such an act of giving has definitely changed my life as well the lives of the people with whom I shared the experience. Where the strangers [stood] - now I have new friends that share in the vision of making a difference in the lives of the people that need it most. The gratitude that I saw in the eyes of the Nicaraguenses that we served solidified in me the feeling that giving as well as receiving comes from the heart.

This morning we had a meeting with Director of Fire Services for the country of Nicaragua. The future looks very bright both for building a relationship between the Firefighters that make up the Random Acts International program and the firefighters in Nicaragua as well as for Hope Clinic. We are in the midst of creating a cooperative between the Firefighters in Nicaragua and the Firefighters in the US to provide equipment, training and support in order to help them provide better service for their people. As for Hope Clinic, the Director has pledged to assist us in purchasing medications at an incredibly reduced rate. The future for Hope Clinic will hopefully lead in the direction of building Tim Clinics all over Nicaragua.

As for me, I am just happy to be a very small part of such and incred¡ble endeavor. I will tell everyone I know about it, but until you come here and see for yourself, it is difficult to take full measure of what giving is really all about. Headed for the airport and for home. I am already counting down the days until I can come back.

Signing off from Managua by way of Jinotega and Esteli, Nicaragua.

While we share the same name, this was written by my firefighter friend, Liz (not by me!)!

Thanks, Liz D., for sharing! Just think - you're changing the world, one life at a time.

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