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public health and politics

June 28, 2011

in the most enormous news, ruby and alice are here!! it is soooo great to have them here. despite the expected adjustment/sick/etc. issues that can come in the first few days, they are both doing awesome getting settled in. but they’ll be able to fill you in on that much better than i can…as you may have noticed from ruby’s fantastic entry/photos.
today i got to go along with two of the nurses at the clinic on home visits. it was so cool! they have a list of people they prioritize seeing (high-risk pregnancies, diabetics, for example), but other than that it is basically a really proactive public health strategy. that is, we stopped at every house in the designated neighborhoods and hollered into the yard or entryway to ask if any “chiquititos” (a really cute way to say “little ones”!) or pregnant women live there. if there are little kids or babies, do they have all their vaccinations? people here are very organized in that every family we saw was able to produce their child’s vaccination card! we carried a little cooler with vaccines, and vaccinated the ones that weren’t up to date. (most were.) if there is a pregnant woman, they did a consultation to see how she is doing and ensure that she is on track with prenatal visits at the clinic and/or hospital. we took some blood pressures, and did a lot of talking. and remember, every service that people got was free. nothing!
i really didn’t do much, just helping with little things, and carrying the thermos, sort of like the chick in dirty dancing. (“i carried a watermelon.” anyone?) since it was so heavy on the education piece, it was mostly just really interesting to get to be there, and see the way this really great and experienced nurse, ana, interacts with patients. we went into so many homes, and met so many people, and really everyone was so hospitable and friendly. relative to what i’ve seen so far here in nicaragua, some of the homes were big and kind of fancy, and some were made of plastic with dirt floors. it reminded me in some ways of political canvassing kind of things i’ve done in the u.s., with some notable differences. like, ahem, everyone was so hospitable and friendly. 🙂 come in! sit down! i made you something to drink! and more interestingly, pretty much no one had an address. so when they were making notes about the visits, in the address box, instead of writing, you know, “342 1st st”, they’d write “from the primary school, take the second left, about 10 meters straight ahead” or “across the street from roxana’s house.”
and then i got back to school and got to hear about alice’s really interesting morning visiting the daycare where she plans to volunteer, and then ruby, who was feeling not so hot this morning, came in to school after a morning of much deserved rest, and looked aglow all over again. did i mention how great it is to have them here? 🙂
and finally, we went to a little talk yesterday, given by brian, the pastor from texas who’s here as part of a delegation investigating the role of the u.s. government in “promoting democracy”/intervening/meddling in the upcoming nicaraguan presidential elections. their findings: where is u.s. money going? well, to use the media to undermine, and promote opposition parties to, the current sandinista administration, you know, the one from whom people in nicaragua have been getting the aforementioned free health care. he said they met with u.s. embassy officials who were pretty clear about that. and they met with different nicaraguan political organizations citizens’ groups, too, who shared their thoughts with the delegation. he shared a quote from one man in the northern city of esteli, who said, considering not only this election but the decades of heavy-handed u.s. intervention in the nicaraguan political process: “i wish we could have just one election without their gun to our head.”
on that cheery note, i’m finishing my cafe con leche and signing off.
love to everyone!

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  1. Geoffrey Haynes permalink

    Hey Betsy
    Greetings from the Managua airport. Was feeling not so well today so didn’t have much time for goodbye’s. So hugs to all! Enjoyed talking to all of you and will continue to check in on your adventures.
    Que vaya bien!

    • hi geoff! so good to hear from you! we will miss you here. buena suerte con todo!!!

  2. Caroline permalink

    Betsy, I lost track of this blog and have found it again. Really terrific and I like hearing the girls’ voices and experiences too. Paris was a pretty different experience from the one you are having!

  3. Tom Werley permalink

    Hi Betsy:
    I just read your blog (from start to finish, including Ruby and Alice’s entries) and it took me right back to Nicaragua for a while. Thanks for writing this blog and for all the volunteering you’re doing. It was great meeting all of you. Enjoy July 19th! Que tengan un buen viaje a Minnesota!
    Tom (the “magician”)

    • tom! we were just talking last night about how we miss you and it feels like it’s been forever since you were here, although of course it’s only been a week. espero que todo este bien contigo y tu familia. y cada vez que pienso en tu “magic show” me pongo riendo en voz alta otra vez!! de verdad! take care…con carino, betsy (and ruby and alice)

    • also tom–i don’t have your email and want you to know: manuel told me about those binoculars while holding them to his heart with tears in his eyes; i almost lost it. muy pero muy amable. and i am getting my ass kicked regularly now in desmoche with those cards you left with kinema, and it’s awesome as always.

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