In November of last year, Dr. Geller from the Pre-Health office gave me an information packet about a two-week trip to Managua, Nicaragua for a group service project offered trough the national government. As I read through the description, I had a feeling this adventure would be the trip of a lifetime, and I was correct.
From January 3rd until January 14th, I immersed myself in a new culture and helped out members of an impoverished country. As a non-Spanish speaking American who has never traveled alone, you could say I was a tad nervous. When I arrived in the country, you could see the poverty everywhere. There were slums directly across the street from the airports, horse-drawn carriages, and plenty of dirt roads. There were no skyscrapers and very little indoor plumbing, which was quite the adjustment for this city girl. I met my 19 fellow volunteers who came from all across the country with the same desire to learn and help others. We learned how to take a blood pressure using a cuff, how to take a pulse on several different parts of the body, and how to suture. Well…how to suture a banana. We were able to apply the former two skills every day when we volunteered in hospitals and clinics across the country. Everyone in the country suffered from hypertension and/ or diabetes caused by their poor diet. Being the second poorest country in Central America, people are only able to afford plantains, rice, and beans. Additionally, the hospitals and clinics were sub-par, to say the least. Despite these conditions, there is immense hope in the country.
The doctors we shadowed were nothing short of an inspiration, each sacrificing their personal wealth to open clinics and provide additional goods to the people. One afternoon, I was able to help with brief door-to-door examinations with the doctors and observe the kindness and compassion of the physicians and the environment in which the vast majority of civilians live in. Over the course of 12 days, I saw a variety of people, places, and was a part of a host of unique experiences. Even though it was a tough period of time, I would not have traded it for anything else in the world.