Está lloviendo sapos y culebras

la foto 3 (3)When it rains, it pours in Nicaragua and we’re not talking metaphors here. The rainy season which was supposed to have started several months ago, is finally here. The drought is over and the average Nicaraguan is happy because the farmers are happy. Hopefully the price of beans will go back down soon. Beans are a staple for every meal in Nicaragua and they were approaching the price of meat, something that wasobviously hurting many families financially

including my host family. It’s interesting to see such dependence on the fickle weather here. I’m also happy about the rain, but it has certainly brought new challenges. I have to be careful that I’m not out on my bike somewhere when another sudden storm comes up and turns every street into a muddy river. As I am writing this, another monsoon is dumping its payload on my family’s tin roof.

The hospital has also brought new challenges, as always. This past week, I rotated in the Orthopedics area of the emergency room. All squeamishness (if I hadn’t already forced it out of me in the operating room my first couple weeks) would need to have left this week. While most of the patients treated in this area were complaining of pain in old injuries in the legs, arms, or back, several people a day would come in with some real trauma: freshly broken ankles, large cuts on their hands, a thick wire sticking out of their arm. I quickly learned how the doctors bandaged and put casts on patients with broken bones and how to identify fractures from X-rays sent to the emergency department’s one donated computer.

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I also took advantage, as I usually try to do, of doctors who would come in followed by a crowd of med students to teach some literal hands-on lessons. They’d learn by watching their professor assess a patient and then they’d do the same on the next patient. I did my best to blend in with the medical student and took rapid notes as the doctors explained some important detail of anatomy or physical examinations.

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One time doing this, I struck up a conversation with some of the med students. They were friendly and surprisingly good at English, wanting to practice speaking with me and learn about med school in the United States. They once again rubbed it in my face that, being sixth year med students, they’re nearly doctors while I’m still 5 years away. How old are they? The same age as me. We got past this, however, and I made a couple friends. The med students never stay in one place for long, following their schedule of two-hour blocks but this time they invited me to come with them to the big Orthopedics wing on the 4th floor. I went and got to assist with supplies as they cleaned the wounds of people in the entire wing, an even more gruesome and awesome experience. The initial shock I felt in seeing the conditions in the hospital was freshened for me a little though as we made the rounds. All the rooms were open to the outside air and crowded with patients, giving little help for the comfort, privacy, or cleanliness to these people with open wounds and long recoveries to look forward to. It is good to know that this is not something that I’ve entirely gotten used to. In between tasks as we were waiting for doctors to show, the med students would pull out study materials and teach me as they reviewed together. Eventually, they invited me to their class in the morning which I gladly attended, soaking up every bit of learning that I can.

My capstone project is forming before my eyes. My English students, the heads of each of the hospitals departments, have helped me edit a short survey that I will give to them and some of their colleagues. It addresses the health issues in the hospital and community acccording to their very knowledgeable perspectives. I’ve also heard some great input from doctors concerning the lack of technology at the hospital. One doctor criticized the government’s free healthcare, saying that if they had only charged one Cordoba (equivalent to about 4 U.S. cents) to every patient that came through the doors of the hospital, no technology or supplies would ever be lacking there. I also had the chance to see the inside of a nearby private doctor’s office when I accompanied a sick friend. At the office, they do charge about $8 for a consultation and the results were obvious. This private care physician essentially had the supplies of the entire emergency room in his small office. It was also much cleaner, faster, and even air conditioned. All these experiences are coming together to give me a picture of the state of healthcare in Leon.

With only one week left at the hospital, everything seems a little surreal. I plan to make the most of it. Oh, and here are a couple long overdue photos of me teaching my English class:

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Ahk Pe

How could people be so….Giving! For people who barely have anything, they always seem to give even when they don’t have. Since I have been in Tafi I have received nothing but gifts. You may be thinking materialistic, but I’m talking about love, humility and even words of encouragement. They believe that me along with everyone here has done so much for them, when I think it’s the other way around. I feel as if I’m forever indebted to them, they have left a imprint on me that I will forever live with…. This one student here her name is KayKay, when I tell you she is such a beautiful spirit, she’s respectful and very bright, she’s my favorite. I’m not sure if it’s because she reminds me so much of myself when I was younger or she’s just that awesome. I think it’s a combination of both. The other day she told me that she would follow me to America. When she said that I started to tear up, I’m not sure if it’s because it was emotional or if it was because I knew I couldn’t take her even if I wanted to. I guess that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. 😔. Although I know I can’t take her I will never forget her she’s taught me so many dances, maybe when I get back I can teach you all a few moves or two… If you want to check out some moves il post a video below. I hope everyone’s doing well.

Sex EDucation

(Cues IceCube-Today Was a Good Day) I think this had to be my best experience thus far in Africa, educating girls in class 3-6 about sex, the reproductive system and also how to properly take care of ones self during their menstrual cycle. The children were very appreciative for this class, not only were they appreciative but so was I. They taught me things that you don’t learn about in Sex Ed in school. Did you know that, woman who can not afford sanitary pads use a piece if cloth as a substitute ??? I thought that was so amazing. One thing I found very interesting when talking to a lot of older woman in the village they say that some of these girls have sex for the first time and end up pregnant because they have not been properly educated beforehand. Also, some men in the village who have cars and/ or motorbikes use these things to lower the young girls to come with them  for a ride home or food for their families in exchange for sex. Moving forward I have been volunteering a lot at the clinic and it is really fun, it kind of sparked a interest that I never had before. I can honestly say that after this experience working there, I have a even greater appreciation for those who are either already in the healthcare profession or aspiring to become apart. I hope everyone is having a great time at their orgs.

The Big Move

I am loving Tafi Atome! The people here are so welcoming and the kids here are even friendlier! Now I know you may be asking yourself why am I all the way in Tafi??? Well it turns out that my organization was a complete scam. Yup you read it right. A scam. After analyzing the whole situation and putting bits and pieces together I was able to realize that I was being bamboozled. Many people have asked me, how do you continue to have a positive attitude?? And my response is always  ” it’s nothing but God” I really can say that this trip to Africa has been nothing but a learning experience, no matter how much I have undergone in this period of time, I do know that I would not have been able to keep up the good fight without the man above. None the less am now at a new organization with Tati,Phoenix,Kelly and Hannah. These girls are nothing short of amazing. After giving them a call, when searching for a new organization, they all offered me kind words of encouragement and even helped me get in contact with their host organization to try and get in. They have been nothing but helpful and I can’t be nothing but THANKFUL for them.

Reflection

I have to admit, week after week it all becomes so much easier to live life in Ghana. I remember Night 1 I cried when I got here and now nothing phases me anymore I guess that’s what you call acculturation. This week I had the opportunity to travel to the coast and visit Kakum National Park, The Elmina Castle and  Cape Coast Castle. The city of Ghana is filled with so much history it’s mind blowing. I told my boyfriend that after visiting the castles I feel like I learned more about the slave trade than I have in any history class I have taken. Btw, at Cape Coast I ran into a few global scholars as well. It was great seeing familiar faces especially people that I knew… Moving forward I think I may be changing the topic of my analysis paper, I think my experiences here have sparked a interest in …..( I think I will leave you all on a cliff hanger there). Trust me I think it will be a very good topic. Just yesterday I had my first marriage proposal, it was quite interesting. I tried to say no, but he continued to give me his life story. It was really funny, even after saying I had a boyfriend it still didn’t change the dynamics of the conversation. After about 15 of saying no my friend finally bailed me out. Thank God she came to the rescue. 

Grateful

Anxious, persistent,nervous, you name it I was feeling it. My first day of teaching had arrived, or so I thought. Before my alarm could wake me up for school, I was awaken by the rain drops on the zinc roof that covered my room. Whenever it rains at school it means that there is no school due to flooding and slippery mud. Now I know your thinking, rain or shine we still go to school, RIGHT?? Well that’s not the case here, at GGYN since school is kept outside under the mango trees, that doesn’t bare any mangoes, it is impossible to teach in such a  condition. So I crawled back under my sheet and slept for about another hour until I was awaken by the roosters. Later that day we decided to take a adventure to the mall, I was so amazed as to how cheap things were in comparison to the states. I bought a few things including a snicker bar which cost me about .50, yup you read it right a whole .50 cents. I can def get use to this life. After leaving the mall we headed back home because we had spent about a good four hours there just talking and goofing off. Moving forward to Monday I was able to teach my first class. Might I add that I have nothing but more respect for teachers now than I ever did before. The students required so much that I didn’t think I would be able to give them. Some students were in class 4 when they should have been in class 2. There reading comprehension was below their grade level. This really gave me a sense of not only humility but also a greater appreciation for what I have in life.  Prior to me and the other volunteers getting here these students were out of school for five weeks, not because of the rain but because of a lack of funds to pay teachers to help them further their education. After hearing this, I put on my thinking cap and went to scratch, assessing each kid based on their own individual needs. This allowed me to correctly place the students in there corresponding grade level based on my assessment. I can tell these next month and a half is going to be nothing shy of great. 

Indian beauty

A blog that I considered writing many times while at Sevalaya is one I’m finally sitting down to type out. While at the project it was common for the girls and women to tell us that we were beautiful, even the boys. We were flattered of course and would respond by saying how they were just as beautiful. Almost every time I would hear how they had black skin and black skin was dirty and ugly. I was appalled the first time I heard this. Why does this child think that their skin is ugly? That white skin is better. I would always try to tell them no and then I would hear it again. I heard it from women who worked at Sevalaya and it broke my heart to know that this idea was ingrained in their minds.
Another common thing I heard was how America was dirty and India was dirty. These kids had never seen America, never been there so it is clear to me someone is teaching them these things. Whether it’s their parents, the media or whatever; it’s disgusting. I hope in the future volunteers and people who surround these individuals reverses those thoughts and helps them to learn that they are beautiful and their skin color is something to be proud of.

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