Sunday, September 15

I'm Happy When I Can Buy My Coffee

This week in Rosita has flown by as I have worked alongside the AMC team here to complete 12 interviews within 6 different communities. One of the first things I noticed is that for campesinos people in Rosita are friendlier and more direct than people who live in rural areas in Matagalpa (on the Pacific coast). 

We talked to many community health leaders, mid-wives, and youth health communicators. The Rosita office has three different projects being currently funded; however, for all three of the projects funding ends in December. 
There is a project which focuses on sexual education and works mainly with youth and teachers within the community. I witnessed one of the radio programs grown out of this project and it was neat to see how open and direct Rosita youth can discuss. about sexual health.

Another project, focuses on implementing and teaching about a new health model for the RAAN. The MASIRAAN health model ensures different cultural norms and traditions are integrated into the hospitals, health clinics, and within the Ministry of Health. For example, community mid-wives are allowed to attend one of their patient's births in the hospital with the help of a doctor. When normally, women chose not to go to the hospital because she didn't to be alone without her trusted mid wife at her side. AMC helps by giving workshops and trainings integrating this model. 

The last project AMC leads is geared toward primary health so from topics from community and self hygiene, how to clean water, and how to help prevent diarrhea. AMC is empowering community health leaders to teach others how to lead healthier lives in simple ways.

 We visited Don Roman and his family in San Antonio. He is a health leader in his community and also uses natural medicines to heal his patients. He shared that with the MASIRAAN model he his able to store some of his plants in the hospital. After the interview his wife, Esperanza cooked us a hearty meal. This is the same family that gave Sarah's parents a chicken as a present when they came to visit Nicaragua. They are very generous people. Sarah shared the Nica joke that we better go before the household gives us more food. "Indio comido puesto al camino, Indio sentado espera mas bocado' which translates to Indian who has eaten should head for the road; Indian sitting waits for more food. 
Don Roman's kids and me... my future?

Sarah talking with one of the community mid wives after presenting her with a book on Mid-Wifing based on local customs.
Later, that evening Don Roman called Doña Cecilia who is the big boss lady for AMC Rosita to see if our driver, Ervin could pick up him and a patient. Cecilia told him she would check in with the ambulance in town, but that should did not feel comfortable sending Ervin at night. She called the ambulance and they were already going to be driving to 3 different locations for 3 different emergencies. Cecilia called Don Roman and asked if the man could wait until the morning to take the bus at 7am. He said yes. It was definitely a wake-up-call to the reality of health access I have so often learned about through statistics and in the central office. 
Wasakin- Mayagna community
On Friday, we got to visit and indigenous Mayagna community and we went the day before Nicaragua Independence Day so everyone was outside and mingling around. The community felt alive. We got to watch the school's band performance. We interviewed Flabio, the community health leader and Ministry of Health nurse. He speaks Mayagna, Miskito and Spanish. He did the interview in Spanish, had words clarified in Miskito, and spoke a few words at the end in Mayagna for us.

It is a Miskito and Mayagna tradition to build the kitchen separate from the house. Also, there is usually a space jutting out built  for washing and drying dishes.
Doña Olga
Then, we spoke with a 59-year-old mid wife about her work for over 43 years. She spoke in Miskito and Cecilia translated. There was a cultural moment when he husband who was standing next to her decided to start answering the questions for her, but we eventually got back to Dona Olga answering the questions. She spoke with lots of passion. An interesting view she shared is that she has really appreciated the workshops lead by AMC; however, it takes her away from her daily activities that need to be accomplished. As a North American or even a Nicaraguan from the city, I might think that chores in the household can wait and really it's not a big deal to finish later. But for Doña Olga those chores are her role in her household. She also noted she receives coffee at the workshops/trainings, so she likes them. Also, later when asked if she gets paid at all for her work as a mid wife, she shared her patients usually want to give something so they give her about 50 cordobas ($2) and the most she has ever earned is 200 cords ($5). Doña Olga said, "That leaves me with enough money to buy my coffee and so I am happy."

Someone let us take this bread fruit home with us. We cooked it by frying the fruit and it was soooo delicious.
Similar to Matagalpa, AMC Rosita has truly empowered many young people to be leaders within their communities. The few health promoters I met here in Rosita are truly involved in helping out their community. AMC leads a group of young people has they do a radio program about sexual health and through the radio program other youth became inspired and began their own program, as well. These teenagers do not yet have children, have gained lots of confidence, and they believe they can make a difference in Rosita. I believe so, too.

 On Friday, I found out my uncle Kent passed away. I've gotten to talk to my family a little bit as well as my relatives, but it is not easy to be away from family during something so tragic. I am praying for everyone from here. I know my cousins and aunt are surrounded by loved ones. I have always used my aunt and uncle as an example of farmers/cowboys in Texas when I am explaining different things about home to Nicaraguans. Uncle Kent will truly be missed.

Wednesday, September 11

¡Aisabe, Managua!

Goodbye, Managua.

I said "See you later" to wonderful people in Managua who have cared for me and nurtured me into the North Ameria Nica that I am today... and I hopped on one of the "Costeña" tiny little airplanes to head to the RAAN or the North Autonomous Autonomous Region of Nicaragua. 

I have now transitioned to the second part of my job where I am conducting interviews in our different AMC project sites. Later, I will write human impact stories.

The RAAN is one of the regions in Nicaragua with the highest poverty rates, with communities which are difficult to access, and with Nicaraguan citizens who are often neglected by the Pacific Coast. 

The RAAN is home to two indigenous groups Miskitos and Mayagnas, as well as, Creoles. 
Miskito people speak in the indigenous language of Miskito and Mayagnas have their own language, however, are now speaking more in Miskito and Spanish. People who are Creole speak in a mixed English language and learn Spanish as well.

AMC has offices located in 5 different communities in the RAAN. 

I am currently working with the AMC team in Rosita. It is a city that lies on flat land, surrounded by many hills. It is just as hot as Managua - so around 90 degrees each day. 
There are 24,462 people that live in the Department of Rosita and in the city of Rosita there are 8,535 residents. 66.1% of people in this department live in poverty and 33.2% live in extreme poverty. The majority of people live without access to clean and safe water. 

I feel blessed to be able to help AMC share the beautiful stories of Nicaraguans living on the Atlantic Coast. 

I will write more when I have more free time, but until then here are some pictures from my first two days in Rosita. 

Sarah is the volunteered who is assigned to Rosita. She along with two other AMC workers helped me interview Don Roman today in the community of San Antonio (hey, Texas!). He is a dental health promoter and works traditional medicines by treating illness with natural remedies. 

Doña María helps maintain the local community pharmacy which is provided by AMC's Community Pharmacy Network and she is a community mid-wife.