Monday, August 22, 2011

We're Actually Here!

At around 8:30 PM our delegation of 12 stepped off our plane into Managua and a wall of humidity. Our delegation was one short. Laura was stranded in Portland due to an unfortunate booking error, however, she was rebooked, and will arrive today (in fact, her plane should be touching down in the Managua airport any minute now).

We passed through customs and collected our bags without any difficulty and met Liz, volunteer coordinator at JHC shortly thereafter. We loaded our belongings into an old yellow schoolbus parked outside. The interior walls and ceiling of the bus were covered with the signatures and sentiments of the many members of previous delegations. One read "Nicaragua will always be in my heart". Our bus driver was named Chico. Liz promptly warned us that we would run several red lights on our way to the Jubilee house and that this was very normal for the time of night. We should not be alarmed.

When we arrived at the JHC compound a member of the security cooperative (one of many cooperatives at the JHC) opened the gate for us. When the bus came to a stop we climbed out to get our first look at our home for the next ten days. We were greeted by a beautiful melding of tropical sounds. Animals and insects were all around us in the darkness, making it seem alive. Liz showed us around where we were to stay. After a long day of flying, we were all tired (though maybe a little wired with the excitment of a new place in a new country). We met and spoke with several JHC members who came by to say hello, and then we said goodnight.

The next morning, after a breakfast, we sorted through the medical supplies that we brought as donations for the clinic. We filled three large duffel bags will much needed supplies, though we later found out that the clinic serves more people than we previously believed. They constantly need supplies. Shortly thereafter, our group split up into those going to work in the clinic and those going to make cement adoquines, or cobblestones.

There were a variety of things being done at the clinic. Some of us were checking the prescriptions on several pairs of eyeglasses with a lensometer. Besty is now a pro lensomotrist. Meghan interviewed four people - two at JHC and two at the clinic - and took several pictures. Dana, a doctor who joined our delegation in Houston as planned, and Becca, a nurse at OHSU saw patients for most of the day - with a break for lunch. They saw children in the morning and adults in the afternoon. Claire translated for Becca and worked in he pharmacy. Mari translated for Carl home visits to elderly patients. We are very glad to have fluent Spanish speakers in the delegation, their skills are incredibly valuable.

Back at the compound, Lew, Josh, Avery, and Tara were working with cement. First it had to be mixed, then watered, and then loaded into a large, noisy, compacting machine to be made into blocks..Pedro Batista oversaw and corrected when necessary, even joked at times. He was later fondly nicknamed Padre Pedro (Father Pedro) on account of his water sprinkling technique looking somewhat like a baptism with holy water.

This evening we had a delicious meal with several JHC members and spent a long time talking to them and getting to know them. Everyone here is very kind and easygoing, we have made friends quickly. At the time of this posting, we are awaiting Liz's return from the airport with Laura in tow. We are also expecting four more volunteers from another group flying in tonight.

There are many exciting things in store for us in the next ten days.


  1. Wow, what a great description of you location, work and how things are going down there.
    Glad to be able to read about your adventures! Sounds liek you are making a huge difference already!

  2. Thanks Jacque!
    I brought the book Nicaragua - Surviving the Legacy of US Policy and gave it to Jubilee House. Mike here says that he knows Paul Dix - but had not seen the book yet. He seemed to appreciate it very much. Thanks so much for getting it and for the suggestion to bring it here.