We departed the night of January 14, 2020 on a graveyard flight from SFO to Houston to Managua. The intrepid travelers included first timers – Dana Breaux, Ernie Ceja, Charla Balkin, Jan Coulter, Gino Scurini and Kelly McGlinchy. Experienced missionaries included Carli Ortiz, Kerri Berry, Nina Shaposhnikov, Joshua Warren, Andy Vedder and John Jones. Our objective was to provide eye care (exams and prescription eye glasses for free) to the people of Las Azucena. This is a small village south of San Carlos Nicaragua and upriver from our home base at the Sabalos Lodge.
Nicaragua is the 2nd poorest country in the western hemisphere behind Haiti. The area of Sabalos and the Rio San Juan is the poorest of all Nicaragua. Average per capita income for the country is about $400 and likely in the Rio San Juan it is closer to $200 per year. Few paying jobs exist with most people surviving on subsistence farming. The people though are very content and gracious. There are no eye care teams (or brigades) that make it to this part of the country. The work we do through the firm, Santa Rosa Sunrise Rotary and St Mark Lutheran Church is the total eye care work provided to the population of over 36,000.
Our two days of mission work at Las Azucena found us dodging the rain storms constantly. The area probably received 10-12 hours per day of rain. We were so grateful that our commute was in a boat and we didn’t have to drive through the mud and slop. The team worked flawlessly and we saw 724 patients during the two days. Included in the many patients were about 50 kids that likely couldn’t see the chalkboard in school but with the glasses they received were 20/20. All of this makes a significant difference in the lives of the people we serve.
To our clients and friends, we thank you for your patience while we were gone and for your support of the firm which makes missions like this possible.
John and the January 2020 Nicaragua mission team!