Thursday, August 28, 2008

Giving it our all!

An exceptional and touching day it was as we closed out our mission in Nicaragua. I think it is safe to say that the 13 days we had here were well spent and an triumphant success. Overall, our medical and dental providers had over 47,000 patient service encounters. The veterinarians made significant progress as well with nearly 2,000 animals treated. Our engineers, both Air Force and Sea Bee’s, took each site by storm making repairs to all they could get their hands on in the amount of time allowed. They made great strides at the Government Compound (2 sea huts constructed for community education centers, repairs to surrounding concrete, overall clean up), Nancy Bach Hospital (3 inch broken water pipe repaired), Municipal Park (repairs to park gazebo, playground equipment installed, installation of new pump and repaired leaking water tank), Juan Comenius High School (tongue and groove ceiling installed, perimeter chain link fence repaired, 9 classrooms painted), Tuapi Bridge (bridge materials donated to Nicaraguan officials for later use on Tuapi bridge repairs), Yulu Well (hand pump installed, well cover and new roof constructed), Yulu Clinic (6 six inch benches fabricated for outside seating), Centro Escolar (2 outside pavilions constructed, one for the outside cooking area and one to serve as a spare classroom and a swing set installed).

The Community Relations Teams made tremendous contributions to the mission as well. They were essentially the beautification team and the public relations squad going out making new friends with the young and the old. They installed basketball hoops and soccer goals at the Yulu site. At the Municipal Park they painted the swing sets, monuments, and gazebo in the Nicaraguan national colors of blue and white, and at the Juan Comenius High School volunteers painted all the classrooms and assisted in clean up. All of this accomplished and that does not yet include all that was achieved by our NGO and Public Heath Teams.
Project Hope made significant donations of general medicines and medical equipment to Nicaragua’s Ministry of Health which will be distributed amongst hospitals throughout the country. All the materials designated for Nicaragua by Project Handclasp were also distributed, which was no easy task but completed flawlessly by Chaplain O’Bannon. Donations included sonogram machines, two EKG machines, a defibrillator, pediatric hospital beds, as well as high nutrition meals, teddy bears and soccer balls. Also, the final tally for Operation Smile patients was 33. All departing Kearsarge with renewed hope and happiness
With all these projects in mind I was excited and looking forward to seeing how they turned out and were being received by the local community where I was met by the Pastor. He led us into the church where services were being held and even called us up to the altar where he asked that I speak to the congregation. I expressed to them how pleased we are to have been able to provide some relief and assistance and that this just the beginning, it is a foundation for hope and a brighter future to build upon.
Following Yulu, we proceeded on to the Nancy Bach Hospital, El Centro Escolar, and the Juan Comenius High School to turn over each site and present a Continuing Promise plaque before heading to the Municipal Park in the Center of Puerto Cabezas for the Closing Ceremony. The swing sets, teeter-totters, and playground installed were all set up and swarming with children, it was an awesome site to see. Music was playing and the crowd was starting to come in when a roll of thunder and lightening came through to bringing torrential down pours. Amazingly, the crowd remained through the storm for the entire ceremony…drenched and soaked to the bone, but filled with the warmth that only true friendship can bring. – The attending pastor said it…“Do not be afraid of this rain, it is a symbol of the blessings that have been brought to us through this group of people, it is a shower of blessings”.

The ceremony was concluded by a fantastic performance by the local High School’s Drum and Bugle Team who were accompanied by what seemed to be school cheerleaders and twirlers. The beat of the drum was so deep it resonated through the entire town. I loved every minute of it.
The next day, we depart Nicaragua and pressing forward to our next destination. They say that rain at a wedding is good luck, I felt the same for our mission. The rain refreshed us and the local population stimulated us and we are ready and looking forward to our next assignment.

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