First off, I have done a completely awful job blogging this second month. Our day to day work wasn’t blog-worthy, I didn’t think. So here will be a pathetic attempt to sum it all up.
So we started off the month working in Hospital San Jose, a small hospital with an obvious lack of equipment. We found a total of around 40 pieces of medical equipment in the entire hospital, which is not much at all. So then there is obviously not much to fix, since they have so little equipment and a technician that does a good job getting things back in rotation if they break. So our first two weeks were pretty slow. We fixed a few cool things, but did a lot of sitting around and wandering around the hospital trying to find things to work on.
So one marvelous day, Kevin, one of the OTGC’s, called us and asked us if we wanted to meet with SILAS to talk to them about working in some of the smaller clinics in our state of Carazo (as mentioned in prior blog post) and we chose to work in the nearest one to our house (half an hour walk or so).
AND THAT WAS AMAZING! Get this: Day one was LOADED with nebulizers and bathroom scales and we repaired five things in four hours! WOAH! And the other days we worked there went similarly. Throughout the day, as more doctors and nurses found out we were there, they would bring more and more equipment. We ended up having the majority of our fixes here! Amazing- right? I absolutely and totally recommend SILAS to anyone coming to Diriamba or any other hospital in Nicaragua. Even if its just for an occasional change in scenery! We also developed amazing relationships with the nurses and administrators at the clinic! These ladies were some of the sweetest people I met in Nicaragua. They were so genuinely excited and thankful for our work almost to the point of tears.
One woman gave us a broken Fetal Doppler, her only one, and a box of “trashed” ones and we mixed and matched parts until we had 3 working dopplers. When we delivered them back to her she gasped and was speechless until she finally said “por mio?!”. She was thrilled and found pregnant Aura, another friend of ours in the Centro de Salud, to test them all out. Her reaction made the entire first month of simi-tedious classes and the struggles of second month completely and totally worth it. Just the look on her face when she saw those dopplers made my heart leap.
Aura, mentioned above, was a wonderful lady who worked in the office. She basically took us under her wing and helped us in any way she possibly could. She knew nothing about any of the equipment, but she diligently took us around to each room in each ward to ask what was broken there. She also sung our praises in each room and bragged on all of the fixes we had thus far. We are now facebook friends and are currently messaging back and fourth about my travels and safety as I get home.
These stories are what make the summer of hard work and being outside of my comfort zone 99% of the time, the best time of my life. I have never felt so nostalgic about leaving a place. I loved Africa and hated leaving, but I just left a huge chunk of my heart and two months of my love and work in a country that has truly shaped my life. I believe that we are formed and shaped by the experiences that we have, and I can confidently say that my experiences this summer in Liberia and Nicaragua have made me a considerably better person in a variety of ways. I have learned so much about myself and about engineering and what I want my life to look at in 5, 10, even 20 years.
Not only were the work and work relationships capturing, the friends I made on the program are some of the most interesting and fun people I've ever met. Who would of known that I would love a group of engineers as much as I love this group?! Much less engineers from Duke. Ha!
If someone told me a year ago that I would be sitting on a plane today, coming home from a trip repairing medical equipment in Nicaragua, feeling the way I do about leaving, and with such direction and clarity for my future aspirations I would think that they were insane. But geez, I'm glad that I am.
I have never imagined that my summer could actually end up playing out as perfectly and wonderfully as it did. I am so sad to leave, but can’t wait to see how my experience, here in Nicaragua, shapes my personality, attitude, goals, work ethic and ultimately future.
This has been a teary eyed blog post, and a teary eyed plane ride. But as Corey Smith once said, “If I could do it again, ya know I’d do it the same.” And that is so true for this summer. There were “Cloud 9” times and times when I could have ripped my hair out, but all came together for a beautiful experience.