Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and Rubin Dario, a small village near Leon, is considered one of the top 10 “most-at-risk” communities in the country. Unemployment is rampant, health problems are a part of everyday life, and 70% of the population lives on less than $2 US dollars per day. If a little help can go a long way in a community like this, imagine how far long-term commitment to help could go.
That’s exactly what dedicated members of Norcross First United Methodist Church have done. Their congregation is so dedicated to making a difference in the lives of Nicaraguans that they’ve taken Rubin Dario under their wing, and for the past seven years, five times a year, the group has worked to better that community. As LuRae Ahrendt, R.N., says, “we really care about the overall health and welfare of the community.”
This relationship began in 2005, when a small mission team from Norcross First United Methodist Church first visited Ruben Dario. The team found poor children being fed out of a bar. They vowed to make a change, believing that no child should learn to go to a bar to get their needs met. A vision was born and it grew into passion. Their goal is to work with, not for, the people of Ruben Dario. They’re accomplishing that by working directly with school superintendents, teachers, doctors, and local community leaders.
MedShare’s Medical Team Store has supported at least seven of NFUMC’s medical mission trips to Nicaragua, most recently in November 2010. The group carried eight suitcases of medical supplies; at 50 lbs each, they took almost 400 pounds of supplies to Nicaragua!
On the trip, medical mission members accomplished a lot, including installing a water filtration system and working alongside Nicaraguan Dr. Alonzo Medina in Rubin Dario clinic. The NFUMC team worked in OB-GYN, did well-health baby checks, and gave community presentations on teen sexuality and kidney care. LuRae recalled a teenage mom who brought her 6-month old baby to the clinic; the child had dysentery and was severely dehydrated. As it turns out, it was through lack of education that the child had gotten sick – not lack of caring. As LuRae sat with mom and child all morning, she both rehydrated the child and taught the mom the concept of hydration. This young girl’s education was so lacking that she didn’t understand the concept of fluids going in resulted in fluids coming out. With a bit of care, clean water, MedShare supplies, both the mom and child left the clinic improved.
The NFUMC team has accomplished many things in the years they have been working with Rubin Dario: they’ve built onto the existing clinic, put three water systems into the community, started a primary school feeding program, implemented a home building program, rebuilt homes, started a sewing co-op, built walls around the school, and put a water foundation in the school.
On the home front, MedShare was pleased to have Dr. Medina visit our headquarters last week to tour the facility and give a brief presentation on the clinics supported by our Medical Team Store in Nicaragua. Both parties are further exploring how we can provide more assistance to these clinics and reach the surrounding rural areas.
(This story is an excerpt from our February e-newsletter. To read the entire newsletter – featuring MedShare’s relationship with Ecuador– click here.)