Jo Speicher, from the State University of New York's Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, participated in the university's two-week summer program in El Sauce. Jo, who is studying to be a Nurse Practitioner, had previously traveled to Nicaragua and worked on the Atlantic Coast in the city of Puerto Cabezas. Thus, El Sauce provided an opportunity for her to experience a different aspect of Nicaraguan life working in rural medical posts. She writes:
It was an honor and enjoyable privilege to be a part of a team of six students from SUNY Upstate Medical University this past July to visit the quiet community of El Sauce, Nicaragua. The noble organization, Enlace, coordinated our stay by arranging every detail with meticulous care. The people of El Sauce are warm and welcoming and my host mama has become a dear friend.
We were introduced to the health care system in Nicaragua by actively participating in clinics at health posts in surrounding rural areas. The local doctors who accompanied us challenged us to think critically and discussed symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments as well as allowing us to do hands on assessments of the patients. We performed respiratory assessments, blood pressure checks and did numerous pap smears. Visits to the local hospital and Casa Materna gave us a further look at the MINSA (Ministerio de Salud, or the government’s Department of Health) system in Nicaragua. The frustration but also ingenuity of the doctors was evident when they creatively met the medication needs of their patients.
The trip was not all work with no play. The staff of Enlace Project planned after-hours entertainment as well. We found respite from the heat by swimming in a few local rivers. We had salsa lessons, which we then practiced at a local Karaoke establishment. We waited for the rain to clear and squished under a pavilion to finally watch a horse race. My favorite was participating in the ‘English School’. I enjoyed watching the students who are dedicated to learn English. Their camaraderie and fun was contagious.
The leaders of Enlace have incredible maturity as young leaders within this community. I was extremely impressed with the different levels of local involvement, from tourism promotion to micro-financing. Enlace is to be commended for its mission and goals and has definitely made a difference in the small community of El Sauce and for the visiting groups like ours. Perhaps Enlace could be a model for many other areas of Nicaragua (and the world) that would benefit from having similar programs. I suggest a TED Talk to promote this unique program.
I would love to return with a big chunky grant to further help promote Enlace’s work! Maybe next summer!!