Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday, August 24. Day three!

Monday’s schedule:
 7:15 AM              Breakfast at JHC
8:00 AM               Work at JHC and Clinic
8:30 AM               Work at JHC
12:00 PM             Lunch
1:30 PM               Work at JHC
6:00 PM               Dinner at JHC
8:30 PM               St Philips flight arrives
9:30 PM               Dorm Orientation

Tuesday’s schedule:
7:15 AM               Breakfast at JHC
8:00 AM               Money changing
8:30 AM               CDCA Project orientation, Talk with Genesis pinning Cooperative
9:30 PM               Walking Tour of JHC, tour of Ciudad Sandino, Nueva Vida Clinic
12:00 PM             Lunch
1:30 PM               Work at JHC with Genesis and Clinic
6:00 PM               Dinner at JHC
7:15 PM               Nicaraguan Folk Music with Guitarra de Madera Azul

Wednesday’s schedule:
7:15 AM               Breakfast at JHC
8:30 AM               Talk with Aynn Setright about Nicaragua history at Casa Ben Linder
12:00 PM             Lunch
1:30 PM               Work at JHC and Clinic
6:00 PM               Dinner at JHC

Words from folks here:

Lew: Our whole group was taken to “Casa Ben Linder” this morning. This house is dedicated to the memory of Ben Linder with amazing beautiful murals of Ben and the projects and circus fun that were part of his spirit. It serves now as offices for some non-profit organizations and as a meeting place for progressive thinkers. Aynn Setright, who has lived here for over 30 years, gave us a fascinating talk that wove a complex and nuanced picture of the personalities and bizarre events of Nicaraguan politics. Her talk impressed me with how Nicaragua has survived many natural disasters and wars. Aynn pointed to the positive aspects of this history in that she believes this past has given Nicaragua a flexibility that may allow it to survive future environmental problems better than other countries.
In the afternoon we came back and I joined in hard labor with 3 others from the MMM group (Avery, Josh, and Tara) plus maybe 7 Nicaraguans – including several from the Genesis cooperative. The work involved digging with pickaxes and shovels to remove soil in the driveway preparing to place sand and cobblestones.  

Claire: I’ve been spending a bit of time at the health clinic here, Nueva Vida (new life), helping Becca check in patients by translating. Interpreting gives me quite a window into people’s lives here. A handful of women with small children come every day. Though they’ve all been sick, today the children seemed more visibly sick to me today. A woman held one daughter on her lap, barely two years old, who couldn’t keep her head up or eyes open, heart beating quite rapidly. The mother too had been sick. They just looked sad and tired and sick. I felt for them. Though I do not ‘do’ much for the patients, I feel privileged to have a window into their lives, and it certainly has my brain churning away as to who I am here theses ten days, in Portland the next couple years, as a citizen of the world… I find myself contemplating a lot, and chatting with other people here, about how change is affected in the world, how we honor and use our privilege wisely. Though perhaps not all too eloquent, that’s a little bit about what I’ve been doing and thinking.

Carl:  I have been considering my original proposition and reason for being at JHC:  There is hope in Nicaragua.  The current government overthrew a brutal dictator and replaced him with a democracy, which, however imperfectly, attempts to allow common people a voice and an opportunity in the great movement here to bring people out of poverty and into opportunity for many.  This would bring fuller expression of their greater potential.  That premise has been my belief since my visit 27 years ago, when I first saw the efforts the new Sandinista government was making to improve the lot of ordinary citizens. 
Now, hearing more of the current government’s political and moral compromises and alliances with un- or anti-democratic forces, I wonder if that’s a valid line of thought.  Perhaps the poverty I now see in the barrio of Nueva Vida is insurmountable.  After all, there appears to be no prospective intervention which could conceivably offer the kind of wealth-building and opportunity-creation I would like to see.  The government talks about it but isn’t funded or equipped or politically enabled to offer it.  The various grant-funding organizations, for public health issues anyway are not oriented to international efforts.  Public awareness of the enormity of poverty in the third world is pitifully absent.  From where does any hope for a people, a nation in dire poverty spring?
I don’t want to entirely abandon my premise, but I really wonder if it’s realistic at all.  Sometimes the first step toward a problem’s resolution is to confront the real magnitude of the obstacles.  Then, as Churchill said, “Never ever, ever give up!”

MariRuth: I have been privileged to spend my time interpreting for medical visits to elderly people in the Nueva Vida community and in interviews that Meghan is conducting.  I really appreciate the opportunity to have a window into the lives of others.  Being the person that I am with my skills and roles I would not have these experiences but as an interpreter I am given the opportunity to be an observer and a facilitator. 
I really enjoyed hearing from three of the women from the Genesis co-operative.  They had three very different perspectives and listening to them greatly enriched my understanding of their experience.  I am also very aware of my privilege as a Spanish speaker in the group in that I am able to have conversations with the Nicaraguan people that I run into.  I have also been going off on my own for walks and having interactions with the members of the larger community who are not associated with JHC and its projects.  I hope that the others of group who are here are also having those experiences and feel that I need to do more to facilitate that.


  1. Wonderful following this, Friends. I have a request (for Betsey?) She mentioned bringing crafts back for sale. Hope you can bring back some beautifully painted toucan (I think that's the bird) earrings. I bought a pair when Becca & Paul were here and loved them! Unfortunately, I've lost one.

    Blessings to all of you on this journey!

  2. Letting you know I am following your blog and keeping you in my thoughts here in Seattle!