Basic Nicaragua

Our final work day was spent wrapping up all the various projects. Suzy believes that this week has been the most productive construction week ever (she has done 29 trips to build homes and support vision clinics over the years). A total of 862 patients were seen in the vision clinic over four days. We built 4 homes, one preschool, and outfitted a new vision lab in the same week. After equipment was added to the lab, we assisted with the neighborhood as they left painted handprints on the wall as a tribute to those who made the permanent location a reality.

Rise and shine at 6 am, and out in the vans again by 7 am to our various locations! Martha and Chris managed to survive an onslaught of 261 Vision Clinic visitors. They think it may be a Clinic record, but regardless, it is quite an achievement. I really appreciate the long days they put in, managing somehow to accurately assess and treat vision issues for a population which has not had good eye care their entire life. The doctors from VOSH (please Google VOSH for more information on this incredible organization) are amazingly dedicated volunteer professionals, who manage to be caring on an incredibly large scale! Imagine 261 people in and out the door of any profession in a business day!

Two work days are followed by a break. Today we had a day off from the intense labor in the heat. Martha and I spent the day relaxing our soreness, and Martha went to drop some of our supplies to the kids in the preschool we were rebuilding. The teachers and kids were conducting classes right across the street (a dirt lane not more than 12 feet wide). Their gifts included school supplies, crayons and paper, etc., but also special things like little matchbox cars (girls requested these as much as the boys), and special Valentine’s Day cards from a regular BASIC volunteer.

On Sunday, I worked on a family home until lunch, when it became obvious that the family had provided enough labor, that I was expendable. Before I left, we had moved all of the cinder block bricks from one location on the site to another, to allow us to pour the concrete floor. After lunch, I joined the demo crew for the preschool we were rebuilding. The concrete slab and the roof were all that would be reused.

Martha, Larry, Chris and I arrived safely, if a bit late, in Managua on Friday evening, 9:45pm. Nicaragua is 2 hours ahead of Reno time. Our first hotel is in Managua proper, and is a very nice facility with a great pool, good beds, nicely landscaped grounds, and friendly staff. We are greeted with hugs from Suzy, head honcho for BASIC, and various other participants.