Friday, August 15, 2008

One Week's Progress

Today marks one week since we set sail from Norfolk, VA and in one week this crew has been able to accomplish more that words can justly describe. Personnel from every group onboard- International Contingents, NGO’s, Civil Affairs, Public Affairs, MED/DENCAP, HMH-464, TACRON, Kearsarge and PHIBRON 8- have worked tirelessly, but with enthusiasm, to ensure that these first few days came together as near to flawless as possible; which is no easy task as we know that those first few days are critical and set the stage for the entire mission.
My team and I accompanied Rear Admiral Kernan, C4F, to Nancy Bach Hospital, in Puerto Cabeza; the only medical care facility in the region that can provide major medical care. There, RADM Kernan presented much needed major medical equipment [sonogram, endoscopy, EKG], donated by Project Handclasp, for the people of Nicaragua.
Upon our arrival at the Nancy Bach Hospital, we were received kindly by the nurses and practitioners who were all so enthused and excited to be receiving the EKG machine that was so desperately needed. RADM Kernin presented the equipment and opened his speech with a few lines in near flawless Spanish, a very impressive and well received gesture by those present at the ceremony. Immediately following the presentation, RADM Kernan and the team toured Nancy Bach Hospital with Dr Francisco Selva, Hospital Director. With the dedication and tenaciousness already demonstrated by our civil engineers, we are certain that the best we can provide will be done.
We next made a brief stop at the Puerto Cabeza Municipal Park, where we will conduct both engineering and community relations projects to bring the city’s square to life. Here, we will repair and install new recreation equipment for the kids and teenagers, paint structures, weed and mow the grass, and clean up the city’s public gathering place. Conversations with the locals indicated that this is where children and families come in the evenings and the weekends to socialize, relax and have fun. Our mission is to make it a place that is functional, enjoyable and aesthetically appealing. We will hold our final closing ceremonies here as a dedication to the city and its residents.
Next stop was the Las Comenius High School, a local high school that was converted into a medical treatment and education center for this mission. Unfortunately we experienced a slight delay in the opening of services for the day. Despite the delay, the medical team was able to quickly get back on track, under the leadership of LCDR Patel, resumed screening and treating those in need with professionalism and courtesy.
Tomorrow is another day, one that we look forward to and give thanks for having been blessed to do good for our neighbors and our friends of Nicaragua.

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