Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Other Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony of the Olympics pulled in millions of viewer’s world wide and has captured the interest of just as many as teams compete in an event that has ultimately brought nations closer together, even if only for two weeks. The opening ceremonies of Continuing Promise did not bring in quite that large of an audience, however its impact on our relations with our Nicaraguan neighbors in Central America is just as significant and no doubt longer lasting as was noted through the response received by the locals of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua today during the ceremony as well as at each site visited.

Today marked the second day of Continuing Promise in operational mode. While we still had some elements inbound a majority of the NGO’s, Medical and Dental activities were out and receiving quite a showing. Our medical and dental team worked primarily out of Juan Comenius High School and accomplished a tremendous amount- in fact they accomplished a full days worth of appointments by mid day and were even cut short by a blistering rain shower that seemed to have come out of no where. Five dental extractions and numerous general and pediatric consultations were accomplished. All involved were well engaged and the enthusiasm of all parties was phenomenal. The most touching was the children, who while they were not fully aware of the magnitude of such an operation still seemed completely thankful for the personal and medical attention they were receiving; especially the toothbrushes given to them by the dentists.

Later in the afternoon after having spent time at the high school, we went on to the Nancy Bach Hospital, which is essentially the central local for health care. The compound had 100 beds of which 79 were currently filled with patients. Their patients are primarily children or pregnant women; however they have the capability to treat at a general level. What they were most lacking was such equipment as X-Ray machines, MRI’s, etc. While there, I had the pleasure of meeting with the lead doctor who seemed to echo the sentiments of the rest of the community with regards to our mission; eternally grateful. He said, “We are a poor town and have suffered much as a result of the devastating effects of Hurricane Felix last year. We are unable to repay you, at least not financially, but God will repay you for all the good you have done and we are very thankful for your help especially at a time when we need it most;” a reference to the devastating effects of Hurricane Felix in September of 2007. As we looked around, as noted elsewhere, lots of great work being done under austere conditions and with minimal resources.

Overall the entire day was a modest effort; I dare not use the word success at this stage, and we have much to do within a short timeframe. We are all eager to press on with this mission and look forward to seeing the end results- a renovated high school and hospital, a reconstructed bridge, a clean and beautified Municipal Park, and an ever blossoming friendship. After all what are friends and neighbors for…

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