Friday, October 31, 2008

Day 4 Clinic

Distribution of food and supplies is a big part of the work that we do here. After passing through the medical and/or dental clinic, families are referred to our distribution station for food, clothing and shoes, and even toys.

It is hard to describe the difference in lifestyle here. Even the small towns feel densely populated and crowded, and dirty and simply lacking most everything.

Janice in distribution told us today that the most sought after item in distribution was not the brand new Crocs or the sandals that had been donated, it wasn’t even the toys or soccer balls for the kids, and it wasn’t even the food, although that was a close second. It was the large boxes the Crocs shoes came in! One lady vehemently asked for a box so she could have a mattress for her and her children. It would create a barrier between them and the dirt floor they normally slept on.

Pictured below is a family receiving some food, new shoes and hand made toys from Canada.

The medical team and pharmacy were moving swiftly and effectively again today seeing 643 people, and the dental team saw an incredible 101 patients today. The team worked right until dark again. Unfortunately, today was a day that for all of our efforts, there were still at least a couple of hundred people we were not able to see.

Pictured below is Michelle from the dental clinic before the day began. Below that is a shot of the whole medical team seeing patients.

One of the tougher cases that we heard today was about a 9 year old boy with Cerebral Palsy. Christine was able to diagnose him and speak with his mother about his condition. He was confined to his wheel chair because his mother did not know that he should be encouraged to exercise. Mentally he was obviously sharp and of age, but a lack of knowledge about the disease had unfortunately ensured the family had not worked with him to make his life more normal.
In Canada someone with CP would receive physiotherapy and speech therapy among other things and that would greatly increase quality of life. That sort of treatment is not readily available here and is certainly not easily attained financially.

Susan works in the pharmacy, but by profession is a speech therapist. Today there was a unique case where a child was slow developmentally and had a very limited vocabulary. The mother and child were walked over to pharmacy and introduced to Susan. Susan was able to show the mother, through an interpreter, how this little 3 year-old could be helped to move beyond a vocabulary of just three words.

Tomorrow is a day off before our last day of clinics on Saturday, and then we return home to Canada on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 3 Clinic

The mood today was a little more frenzied. The need seemed palpable in the air and there seemed to be more desperation to get help.

Today our medical team was able to see over 500 patients (final count tomorrow). And to be clear that means our pharmacy team also saw close to the same number as the doctors, nurses and paramedics. We do have the occasional patient who may have something like a common cold, and therefore no medication is prescribed, but as a general rule we need to give anti-parasites, vitamins and then something that treats a more acute condition.

Our dental team was able to see 119 people. Very few, if any, had to be turned away, so it was a great success. The dental team worked until dark, something we try to avoid, but head lamps and flashlights kept the work going and we felt the satisfaction of seeing everyone we possibly could. Today we fired up the gas powered generator because there was not enough electrical supply to run all of the machines. Once that problem was solved, we were on track to see a record number of dental patients. We have four dentists working constantly.

More people, more children, and the kids program was vivacious again. A great story from the kids program came in from yesterday. Leah Katerberg, who works for FTC Canada, has been working in the kids program with Anne Stewart a volunteer and retired teacher from Oakville.
Yesterday they had children doing crafts, playing games, singing songs, and receiving face painting. In keeping with the trend of not being able to see everyone for dental medical care, as the end of the day neared it seemed that Leah was not going to be able to finish painting all the children’s faces. A little girl of about 7 or 8 had been helping Leah all day by holding the face crayons. She had not even had her turn yet. It occurred to Leah to teach her how to put a butterfly on a face so she could get more faces painted. She was timid, but Leah kindly insisted. Humorously, it seemed the training had already been done; having observed for a couple of hours, she simply took another crayon and began to paint faces as well!

Another integral part of the missions is our interpreters, many of whom are volunteers themselves from Nicaragua or a neighbouring country. Below, pictured with Anne and sharing a quiet moment, is Diana the interpreter for the children's program, . It has already been such a pleasure to team up with so many willing and skilled volunteers form Canada, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 2 Clinic

Day 2 saw bigger crowds and unfortunately, we had to turn away many. Nevertheless, we were able to see 429 patients through the medical clinic and 102 through the dental clinic.

The work being done is really amazing. In the medical clinic everything from normal procedures (for us in Canada) like checking on the health of a newborn baby were being done, to more serious treatments of skin issues, and treatment of parasites, a common ailment down here.

Seeing Dr. Jack and his team work with the slightly to very nervous children is wonderful. The dentists are helping so many, but they are showing wonderful care and concern all the while.

The children’s program was terrific today! With three stations including crafts, games and face painting, it was a great treat for the kids and certainly a lot of fun. The children are able to take part in the program before and after medical treatment throughout the day.

Moreover, many families received food, we also gave toys, soccer balls and shoes to those in need.

Tomorrow we are going further out from Managua, so the drive will be a long one. More on that tomorrow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 1 Clinic

Today we were in Villanueva at a little complex called Eden, a suburb of Managua. The lady who labours here is named Theresa. She runs a school the midst of unimaginable poverty. As part of her work she runs a feeding program three times a week which Feed the Children Nicaragua helps support.

Today we were able to see everybody who came. This is a first for our medical-dental trips so far. We arrived around 8:45am and were able to get started relatively quickly after set-up.

The three dentists were extremely busy, closing shop just after dark (our goal is to stop by dark) after seeing over 70 patients. They performed extractions and restorative work.

Our three doctors, three nurses and three paramedics were able to see over 355 patients who were then sent to pharmacy for the medicines and vitamins that were prescribed.

The children's program brings energy and distraction for the kids as we endeavour to process the crowds through the medical-dental stations. There is also a distribution station where food, clothing, and some age appropriate toys are distributed.

Today, a very young lady came to the clinic afraid that she was pregnant; a product of robbery and rape. Thankfully she was tested and was not pregnant. We were able to pray with her, encourage her and give her some preventative medicines as well.

Personal note. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to serve our humanity in this way. We do not want to bring anything to them they do not want (Western culture etc.) but we do want to bring health and love. [Note posted by Cliff Cline, FTC Canada's Director, Canadian Operations]

Here are some pictures from our day in Eden:

Before and After:

Helping through an interpreter:

Helping and remembering:


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Medical-Dental Team Nicaragua 2008

The team has arrived safe and sound and we are currently settling into our hotel. It has been a long day of travel. Here are a few photos I took when we landed. We are a big team - 21 people, 39 bags, plus carry-ons and a massive amount of anticipation for what is to come.

Our Central Americal Director, Efrain, with some of his team.

A few members of the team on the way to hotel .

Dr.Tony and Efrain figuring something out.

And more to come. Tomorrow is orientation and planning and Monday is the first day of clinics.