Monday, September 30, 2019

Sweating it Out...Week by Week

Money.  Money.  Money.  

Kathy is our bookkeeper.  She enters all the in-coming and out-going funds for the CDCA on the accounting system in English and again in Spanish.  She provides us with weekly financial summaries so we can talk about what we are to do that week and next month.

Since the civil unrest of 2018, the CDCA’s finances have been stretched to their limit*.  Where we see it weekly, Kathy sees it daily.

Kathy wakes up in the morning and with her Book of Common Prayer, she has her daily worship time.  During that time and at night, one of the requests she makes in her prayers is that the CDCA will get the funds we need to operate. 

Kathy is 70 years old and the stress of worrying about how we are going to meet our bills and pay rolls is wearing.  When any of the rest of us have filled in for Kathy when she has been gone, we slowly go crazy seeing all the money just go out and out for need after need. 
She has done remarkably well for the last 25 years. 

Recently, Diana Ibarra began working in the office aiding Kathy; she  has helped tremendously.  Cheerful Diana taking over so many tasks has freed Kathy up to do the books in a timely fashion.  Diana also sees the money go out the door for needs but does not feel the immense responsibility to make sure there is actually money there for the needs.

None of us like to fund-raise.  We all hate searching for funding, constantly asking people for donations, coming up with new ways to get people to give, etc., but we do what we can with what we have and wait for our weekly meetings to see how well people responded.  Thank God, for me, it is only once a week!
*If you can help with ongoing costs of the clinic, or for other needs, that would be wonderful!   You can give here:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Feeling like a Miserable Cow

Amazing things will happen today if you choose not to be a miserable cow is my wallpaper on my computer.  I am frequently these days a “miserable cow.”  I suffer from depression and it seems to be getting the best of me.  I don’t cry…no, I just cannot do what I need to do.

As in the United States, many of the street people here in Nicaragua need serious mental care.  Mental health issues seem to be the last societal issues to be dealt with; probably because it costs money and is on-going.  

Earlier this month a local TV station, Channel 4, brought volunteer medical professionals to the Nueva Vida Clinic on a Saturday to provide free care. Among the varied doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and dentists there was a psychiatrist. Hopefully mental health is becoming identified nationwide as critical.
When Pat died,* I laid awake thinking how were we going to address the many and varied mental health issues that present themselves in the poor of Nueva Vida.  Stress increases heart disease and diabetes.  Depression increases the desire to just die.  Grief can overwhelm a father and cause a family to go hungry.  Trauma can trigger crippling anxiety.  And the children…

Pat was wonderful with children…her play therapy helped so many kids talk about abuse, trauma, grief, and fear.  Much of her work went into learning disabilities in children and helping families and schools cope with their over-active children and helping the children learn how to learn.

God, the Universe, Fate…what have you…provided Dr. Acuna, who volunteers at our clinic three mornings a week.  She works with our patients to help them cope.  She is loved by the patients and she gives her time freely – at least for now.  We hope to find sponsors for her,** so that her need for an income can be met and she can continue working with us.

Feeling overwhelmed…feeling unable to care for your loved ones…feeling panicky…or just like a miserable cow…is crippling.  Poverty holds millions in a state of trauma, grief, fear, and hopelessness…having a trained listening ear is invaluable.
*Pat Floerke, our loved community member and counselor at the clinic, died suddenly on December the 18, 2018 after a fall - probably due to a severe stroke - and severed her carotid artery and jugular vein.
**If you can help with ongoing costs of the clinic, that would be wonderful! You can give here:

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Jumping in at the Deep End: 20 Years of Nueva Vida Health Clinic

We have not been posting blogs for a while now.  We are trying once again.  Please let us know if you find them helpful.

The Center for Development in Central America’s health Clinic in Nueva Vida has now been open for 20 years!!! 

WOW!  And for those 20 years, I have been the Director…me, with a master’s of divinity degree.  How?

There are many people to praise or blame for this.  One such person is Nora Laws.  Nora  and her wife Becky (a physician's assistant and pediatrician, respectively) have been long-time supporters of our work…donating their time as well coming down to hold health clinics in remote areas of Nicaragua.  They are also dear, dear friends. 

After Hurricane Mitch in 1998, Nora called and said that she was ready to come in two weeks with trunks of medicines to see victims of the hurricane, if we wanted her…duh!  Yeah!  She had one condition:  she wanted me, a mother of three young boys, to be her pharmacist…thus, I began working with medicines.

Another major player was Dr. Don Stechschulte, the doctor from Bucknell University who came with that first Bucknell delegation also right after Hurricane Mitch.  As he saw 100 patients a day in a throw-together “church” (actually a room with a dirt floor and scrap metal walls), he depended on me to know what medicines we had and what the desperately poor patients had as resources.*  When he and the Bucknell folks started raising funds and awareness for the clinic, they asked me to run it.

Then there is Mike, my beloved, who attended a meeting of NGOs working with the hurricane victims and discovered that the one clinic running in the area was about to be abandoned.  Mike came home on a Thursday and told me the clinic was the CDCA’s on Monday if I wanted to run it.  And thus, I became the Director.

For me, a divinity student, this is the way The Divine works…using many to shove some of us into the roles we need to fulfill.  I had no medical knowledge, but so, so many doctors, nurses, public health professionals taught me.  I still have few organizational skills, but now we have Josefa Rayo as administrator, who has more organizational skills in her little finger nail than I do in my whole being.

The Nueva Vida Clinic has served tens of thousands of patients and grown and adapted….and thanks to Nora, Don, and Mike…I’ve been fortunate to be a part of it.

If you want to support the clinic$20 for the 20th anniversary would help greatly and as Mike says, “the more zeros you have and can add to that $20, the better!" 😊

*For example, the poor cannot buy yogurt or applesauce for gastritis, but might be able to round up some papaya.