Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another Health Clinic and a Cultural Center

The next day we had the opportunity to visit another health clinic that another woman was running out of her home. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me on this outing but more pictures from the other delegates on this trip can be seen here. It was at this health post that we met María, a young mother. She runs the health post out of her home and she has many of the same duties as Yamileth (an amazing woman that you can read about here and here). She gives out different medications, vitamins and supplements. She has scales, nebulizers and other technologies that makes this health clinic run pretty well. She explained to us that doctors come in every week and her house functions as both the waiting room and the examining room. It is hard to keep the clinic running, she explains, because the neighborhood does not have electricity and no potable water. Sometimes, at night, they can get water, but for the most part it is hard to come by.

What I found particularly interesting about this health post is that it is in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Managua. This neighborhood is known for being one of the poorest- think Yamileth's neighborhood had electricity and water- and it is right next to a public hospital. A public hospital that is right around the corner but far too expensive for any of these citizens to afford.

And that is partly why María is willing to open her house up to others as she has. She stresses to her neighbors to not worry about the time of day or whether the clinic is "open" or not; she tells them not to worry about these things and to come and seek help because she, too, knows how it feels to desperately want to help your child. When her only daughter was two years old she became very, very ill. María did what she could to help her daughter's fever go down but it just got worse. Her daughter would have cold chills and hot spells that then lead to her jerking into consciousness. Come to find out, her daughter was having seizures due to her high fever and dehydration. One night she just went limp and María was sure that her daughter had died. She ran into the streets screaming for help. She told us this story through tears with her little daughter standing in front of her. She told us how she was so young and she just did not know what to do. She wishes that she had a health post that she could have taken her daughter. She reflected on how daunting a trip to the hospital seemed because they had no money. María recounted that at this point she passed out and was told after she came to that her father grabbed the girl and took her to a nearby hospital. There, they were able to stabilize the girl, but not easily. It was nearly impossible to get an IV because her veins had basically collapsed. This experience, in the hospital, was also traumatic for María because she did not have anyone explaining to her what they were doing to her daughter. She did not know what was going on and was so frustrated. At one point, she tried to convince a nurse to let her just take her daughter home to die there.

Fortunately, they were able stabilize her daughter but she had to stay in the hospital for a long time. And after she came home she had a few other health problems that came up. Each one was a panic attack and traumatic experience for her mother. All of this convincing María that she needed to man this health post and it was important to her that her neighbors know that she is there to help at any time. Her drive and her story are not unlike Yamileth's. Many of the women in Nicaragua carry their families and communities on their shoulders. María simply sees it as something she must do so others do not have to experience what she experienced. She is now starting school and is hoping to become a nurse. She has hope for herself, her family and her community. Like Yamileth, it was hard to leave her home and not feel as though things can get better.

The last part of our day we visited the Batahola Cultural Center in Managua. The center is filled with beautiful murals that were some of the only ones not destroyed during the Contra War. The murals display the history of Nicaragua and the present the cultural and a beautiful and colorful way. This center also functions as a Liberation Theology church, a music school for the community and has grown to offer classes in cooking, baking, life skills and many other things. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
**In many of these pictures you see key historical Nicaraguan figures. With attention to detail this whole center can give someone a pretty in depth look into the culture and history of Nicaragua before and after the Contra war.**

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