Today 1344 eyes are smiling, seeing “mas claro” in 672 very grateful Nicaraguans in the Rio San Juan Region of southern Nicaragua. Many of the those same people are equipped with both distance and near pair of glasses and protective sunglasses, “gafas” to keep damaging UV rays off their eyes. In addition, 103 mouths are “mucho mas limpio”, reflecting improved oral health and a shift in treatment from extraction to restoration and prevention.
This year, the returning Nicaraguan Couple-Dentists Javier and Ana from the 200 km north capital Managua again worked with a Dental Hygienist from the Sabalos Regional Clinic to treat patients from pre-teen to “viejo”, senior citizens. Peter Hoberg accepted the crucial role of instrument sterilizer, earning himself the unenviable evidence of chemically stained orange fingers. Fortunately he did not exhibit any apparent cognitive lapses while on duty.
Over the course of three days, Sunrise Rotarians and some of their family focused on improving people’s visual acuity. Steve “Grandpa” Zwick was the third generation in his family represented and remarkably both his daughter Jennifer and granddaughter Alessa brought valuable Spanish language and organizational skills. Steve’s español is well known! Alessa, just 12, quickly established her organizational skills in the eyewear department, and with the village children: She taught them London Bridges Falling Down, and jumped rope (with the girls), creating a genuine sense of “amistad”, aka friendship between our Team and the people of La Azucena.
Completing our Team were first timers Harry “Happy” Coffey, Paul O’Rear, and Carmen “Señiorita” Gutierrez. Veterans Peter “Green Fingers” Hoberg, Ezbon “General” Jen, Penny ~ also Spanish proficient Millar (her husband is Paul O’Rear) Steve “Auto-Refractor” Herron, Rich and Señora Habla Español Betsy Randolph, and our District Governor Erin Dunn from Fortuna. Planning, Leading, Encouraging and Mentoring us all, gladly again was John, “Numero Uno” Jones. With the assistance of Rafael Preslyn, John assured we all got to our appointed rounds on time, had wonderful accommodations and local places of interest to pique our curiosity in Central American history ~ of which there is a lot involving the United States.
Following our formal clinical operations, we visited the town of Sàbalos where Sunrise Rotary is awaiting final approvals to build a surgical center adjacent to the existing Regional Medical and Dental Center. A visit to a local hotel gave us an opportunity to make and sample fresh chocolate, directly pressed from fresh roasted beans. Not far, in El Castillo, “The Fort” we could climb atop the sentry outlook for Pirates of the Caribbean. Further inland we had views of two volcanoes, Mombacho and Masaya. Currently aglow, Masaya was closed to local viewing as opposed to previous years in which one could peer over a cliff into the steaming caldera. The city of Granada, pop. 131,000 possesses, some say the best-preserved examples of Spanish architecture dating back to the 1500’s.,
Our Team was also fortunate to be accompanied by a brigade of 4 Peace Corp Volunteers: Ana, Liz, and Chris & Freddy provided linguistic support as well as cultural enrichment. We learned of their work, ranging from entrepreneurship for high school students, Health Education, Public Health-Nutrition and Gender Equality (alternative role models for male machismo). A perusal of the Peace Corp web site is very informative. One member’s initiative is featured at: https://donate.peacecorps.gov/donate/project/youth-boys-gender-equality-camp-camp-chaca-2016/
The 2016 Sàbalos Team Trip directly served 672 + 103 Nicaraguans in 3 days. Team members themselves bring back innumerable memories from clinics and excursions. Are you a bit curious? Every two years the club plans on a visit. It is not too early to mark your calendar for 2018.
Written by Rich Randolph of the Santa Rosa Sunrise Rotary