Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Reopening: Protection, Prevention and Professional Care

The CDCA has been closed for several weeks now, but today we are opening back up for several reasons:

  1. Although the confirmed cases of COVID-19 are going down in Managua, we have jointly decided with the leaders of our different projects that COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time.
  2. Our patients need the clinic in Nueva Vida open for consistent care; they are asking for it; and they need basic services as well as some preventive care.
  3. And many of our staff are not sheltering in place but going to their second jobs, traveling to help family members, and going to the market to feed their families,  
    • Rogelio, Pedro and Lucas have been working on the organic cooperative business... fixing machinery in the processing plant and a tractor.
    • Our doctors have been working for MINSA and in private clinics.
    • And our office administrator has been in government offices for Rotary.
Therefore we are reopening.

We are instituting more stringent health protections:

  • All of our staff will wear masks when working with others or indoors.
  • Most people who come to deliver and have business to transact are wearing masks or we will provide them with one, and all our entrances have hand washing stations.
  • All the clinic staff will wear both masks and face shields.
  • All patients will wear masks, be checked in under an awning, sit in designated areas, and wash hands before having any contact with our staff.
  • We are having more masks sewn with a new design that includes filter inserts.  We are having more gowns made for regular changing by our nurses, doctors, and dental staff.
  • Exam rooms will be disinfected between patients.
  • We will only do dental procedures that will not involve spraying of water or any water droplets in the air.
  • We will offer designated preventive services on designated days in locations without sick patients.  These will include:
    • PAPs
    • Birth control including implants
    • ultrasounds
    • eye exams and glasses
  • We will disinfect before these patients arrive, they will also wear masks.
  • We have oximeters and non-contact thermometers now and can get more if we need them.
  • We are requiring staff members who feel sick to not come to work and to go see a doctor.  They all have health insurance through the government program.
  • We have had our staff sign a memo with these new instructions.
This will be difficult but we have to protect the staff and our patients from transmission of COVID-19 as much as we have the power to do so.

Fortunately masks etc., in Nicaragua have not become some silly, insane political battle.  It is common sense, which is why medical people of all sorts wear them.  Also, people who argue that scientists first said not to wear masks should know science changes all the time as new facts are discovered.  We should have learned in middle school about the scientific method.*

We will keep you posted on how things are going and if conditions change and we decide we have to close again. 

*a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses. (Oxford English Dictionary)

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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Future Friday: The Rona and Trees

As the coronavirus continues to sweep through populations globally, many of us...including me...were happy to see that air pollution was down with all the shelter-in-place orders.  But as the world's human population begins to open back up and mingle, the virus is once-again on the rise and with it, pollution.

Trees and plant life remove carbon dioxide from the air and transform the carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen.  Most of us know this.  But did you know that in 2019, one soccer field's worth of trees were cut down or burned down EVERY. SIX. SECONDS. worldwide?

Guyana deforestation - Shutterstock licensed photo

Most of us know that many diseases, bacteria, and fungi are passed from animal to human.  But did you know: we are having more and more pandemics because humans and animals are interacting more because of deforestation?

I heard Sen. Lindsay Graham talking in the Senate of banning wet markets globally.  It's a good idea and one that can be implemented in wealthier countries like the U.S.A. and China.  It would be difficult to completely eliminate markets like that in Nicaragua....though most Nicaraguan markets do keep live animals separated from slaughtered meats.

But more importantly, Sen. Graham did not talk about deforestation globally.  When a forest is gone, the animals move to human spaces because that is all that is left.  The U.S.-backed president, Jair Bolsanaro, of Brazil is using the COVID-19 catastrophe as cover to deforesting the Amazon rain forest.  Fruit bats live in the tropical rain forests and they are likely carriers of Ebola, COVID-19, and other infections and viruses.

Most of know this with Lyme's disease.  Deer used to carry the ticks in the woods with no harm to them; but with fewer and fewer forests, deer come closer to humans and the ticks attach themselves to children, pets, and adults.  But did you know: malaria that is spread by mosquitoes is an epidemic directly linked to deforestation?

Everthing is connected.  All in this world needs balance.  When we start messing with the balance of nature, we are going to suffer...our children will suffer...and our grandchildren will suffer and die.

Plant trees in your front and back yards.  In times of droughts only water your trees.   Lobby Congress to take meaningful action on Climate Change and deforestation.  The woods will grow back, if we give them the chance.  Let's give them that chance.

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Just Little Ol' Me?

So much pain everywhere.  So much conflict everywhere.  So many poor folk in need in so many lands!  How can I possibly help at all?

A few ideas... a few stories... you really DO matter in Nicaragua!

The Bucknell Brigade... bringing volunteers and donations year after year... begun from just one student's idea... one student's plea to help her host family after Hurricane Mitch. The Nueva Vida Clinic and all of its service for 20+ years grew out of that single plea!  We look forward to having BNB volunteers back again when the university again allows international travel.

BNB Clinic Construction

Sweating for a Reason... Jessica is still running now... mile after mile in the heat or inside because of COVID-19, even while participating in BLM protests.  Her pledge proceeds are coming to the work of the JHC-CDCA in Nicaragua.  She has no money to donate, and knows that there are many good causes needing help... but as she continues to donate her sweat and stamina, she needs more pledges!

Weddings... several couples who don't need more housekeeping equipment as wedding gifts have asked instead that gifts be given to the work of the CDCA in Nicaragua in their honor... providing medicine and PPE for Clinic staff, directly saving lives.

One volunteer couple... putting the Nueva Vida Clinic in touch with the world by getting internet installed there for medical staff use.  And now, with COVID-19, it has provided a way to educate for safety and health, staying in touch with patients and the community while staying safe!  Who would have thought it could be so important!

Sharing with personal friends via social media... helping to spread the word.  We've been sharing the latest in Live Event Zoom presentations... have one more coming up on June 25 at 4PM EDT... Please join us... come to the Waiting Room, add your name and email, and we'll invite you right in!  You make a difference, and we need you.

Yep, just little ol' you... you make a difference.  Thanks!
- Sarah

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Future Friday: Military and Climate Change

Sunday is Father's Day and I have been thinking about Daddy who died in 2015. My father was in the military as a non-ranked private and later as a Lieutenant Chaplain.  He was proud of his service as many veterans are.  We honor veterans often during the year in the United States of America: Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, and Veterans' Day.  

Bob Murdock in uniform

The United States of America is my birth nation. I will say this about  my country; it has an unhealthy relationship with the military.  From my days of  pacifism to now, I have changed.  Now I do believe that nations have the right and responsibility to defend themselves, but the question has to be discussed in what extent do we defend ourselves?

Minneapolis 2017 - 43rd Annual May Day parade.  Photo: Shutterstock licensed

Do we keep the industrialized military funded and operating to the destruction of the planet?  I would think that this would be a no brainer, but in fact that is exactly what the U.S. government and people are doing: even though Pres. D.D. Eisenhower said almost 60 years ago:

For example, that military power continues:  When the U.S.A. chose to go to war in Afghanistan for "the defense of the country", the Taliban that was almost at near death wasn't willing to turn over one man, Osama bin Laden, founder of al-Qaeda.  So the U.S.started bombing Afghanistan then they and Britain invaded. What has happened to their environment in the almost 20 years of war and U.S. occupation?

The nation has been deforested.  Burning trash military trash in pits has released pollutants in the air causing health issues within civilian as well as U.S. military personnel's bodied.  Not to mention well over 100,000 people have been killed and the Taliban is strong yet again. 

In Iraq munitions (bombs) were used that has caused an increase in cancer and birth defects from dust storms when the sand was affected in burning oild fields and trash pits.   Iraq has been polluted...for what?  Al-Qaeda didn't even operate there.   But there was oil to be had; oil when burned causes carbon dioxide.

Oil that runs our battle cruisers and ships, jet fuel to fly our planes all over the world: our military pollutes the seas, the air, and with bombs the earth.  

And dare I mention nuclear weapons?  Yes, I dare.  Talk about the danger of ending the earth's clean air and land and nuclear bomb would be disastrous and retaliation bombs will end life completely as we know it globally...GLOBALLY.
Photo: Shutterstock licensed

Can you imagine?

We as a nation have to limit our military for the sake of our children and grandchildren.  The U.S. military industrialized complex just pollutes too much.


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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Future Fridays: Fabulous Farming Fathers

Future Fridays: Fabulous Farming Fathers

Some dads hug and tease their children. Some dads dispense sage advice. Some dads are physical - building, cycling, fishing. Some dads are teachers - of games, math, even driving a car. But the best dads all have something in common: a deep desire to ensure a good future for their children. 

In Nicaragua, we work with many dads - and granddads - who see the goal of a good future for their children as intrinsically linked with good stewardship of the earth as organic farmers.

Nicaragua is a country of farmers - we have more arable land than any other Central American country and thanks to small farmers growing beans and corn we produce most of our own food. After generations of only the wealthy owning land and the poor working as farm hands for pittance wages, small farmers finally became land owners - mainly as members of cooperatives - due to a sweeping Agrarian Reform in the 1980s with the Sandinista Revolution. 

Perhaps because of this, land is seen as a precious commodity, not to be taken for granted. Nicaraguan small hold farmers do not hope to accumulate wealth during their lives, but they know that their farms are the inheritance they will leave their children. Therefore, they are not willing to exploit the land season after season, burning out nutrients and adding chemical pesticides and fertilizers as large agribusinesses do. They would rather take a slow and steady approach - rotating crops annually, making their own plant-based organic fertilizers and pesticides, letting fields lie fallow for a season. All with the knowledge that because of their careful stewardship of mother earth, their children and grandchildren and great-great grandchildren will have those same productive fields to guarantee delicious corn tortillas and beans on their tables far into the future.

Frei Betto says, "The head thinks where the feet stand." For these Nicaraguan farming dads, climate change is not an intangible concept, but a real threat they see in changes to the rains that their un-irrigated crops rely on, and an ever increasing cycle of floods or droughts but nothing in between. Climate action for them doesn't mean lowering their families' already tiny carbon footprint. You won't find these farmers arguing science and theory in air-conditioned conference rooms. You'll find them in their fields, spraying organic manure "tea" on their crops, plucking pest infestations off plants by hand, quietly waiting for the rest of the world to come to its senses. And you'll find us alongside them, as we have been for the past 26 years, helping these dads to get a better price for their sesame,  peanut and coffee crops through organic certification, processing and marketing support.

You can support these organic farmer dads
and other Nicaraguan dads
this Fathers Day
by donating in honor of your dad.
- Becca

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Future Fridays: Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter.

Mothers losing their sons to police brutality.  Sisters losing their brothers to White Supremacy members.  Children losing their fathers to war.  How can we continue to let family members lose their loved ones?  But there is more…

Our society so often forgets the abundance of gifts that are lost when a Black life is taken.  Children who are left behind without a father may never find their potential, which means that we as a society lose a potential scientist, theologian, inventor, doctor, and the list goes on.  COVID-19 might have a vaccine if a child in the inner city had been able to go to Cornell.

Remember Hurricane Katrina?  Remember how the poor neighborhoods were completely obliterated with flood waters?  Remember how most of the poor were in Black neighborhoods?  

Think of all the musicians that could not grow to find their beat, could not learn to play an instrument when Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans.  We might have more virtuosos playing for us.

The poor, who are mostly made up of brown and black people worldwide, are suffering not only from police brutality and poverty, but also climate brutality.  When tornados, hurricanes, droughts, and floods hit areas where poor people live, these people die more often and have a much more difficult time recovering.

Climate change will hit low-income communities the hardest as it takes a toll on the U.S. in general, says a blockbuster government report released on Friday.

Low-income communities in both urban and rural areas will be disproportionately impacted by climate change relative to other communities, according to the assessment, which was created by a team of over 300 experts from the government and the private sector to analyze the impact of climate change on the country.

Those communities already have higher rates of many adverse health conditions, are more exposed to environmental hazards and take longer to bounce back from natural disasters. These existing inequalities will only be exacerbated due to climate change, according to the report, which is known as the Fourth National Climate Assessment.

What kind of future are we as a society giving to all our children?  Are we giving them one in which to flourish and grow… giving them possibilities to help save us from ourselves?  Or are we giving them the dismal future of the abyss?

Black Lives Matter.  Not only for black people themselves who lives are brutally snuffed out, but also for their families, communities, and friends; as well as for our society as a whole… which is something we choose to forget to our own demise.  

We, as a society, NEED everyone living to their potential.  We have climate problems galore that can only be solved working with one another using all the brain power we can muster.  When a black person dies… part of society dies as well.  We, white folks, need to remember that.


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Monday, June 1, 2020

Offering a Model: Witness for Peace

In 1985 when I made my first trip to Nicaragua, I came with a Witness for Peace group (WFP).  We were about 60 or so women who came to witness first-hand the war that was happening here in Nicaragua.  It was extremely powerful.  I learned1  and grew volumes.  

On that trip my heart broke again and again.  There is no way I can convey the horror and the pain that my government was causing, as well as the strength of the Nicaraguan people:  those fighting and those not.

It is from that personal experience that I propose that another Witness-for-Peace-type organization be formed or the existing one expand its focus… to include the horrors being perpetrated by local police against people of color in the United States.  

Witness for Peace was a great model.  They had long-term U.S. volunteers2  who went into Nicaraguan war-torn communities, living with people and documenting human right abuses and stories.  They hosted short-term volunteers in delegations who went into war zones to try to stop the violence by just being physically present.3
These volunteers, like me, listened to stories told to us by mothers who had lost their children, by community leaders who told of people being executed, and on and on. 

I am putting forth WFP as a model to white people who want the police brutality and killings to stop.  Organize people to go live in communities particularly at risk of the police.   Listen to mothers, young people, and community leaders and start compiling documents of human rights violations.  Bring short-term volunteer delegations into powder-keg moments to act as barriers between the police and the protesters.  Have these volunteers talk to mothers and fathers, young men who have experienced atrocities, and community leaders, in order to lobby and bear witness to their stories.  Don’t depend on the media to tell the truth.

Last night on PBS, I listened to three white men talk about what was going on across the U.S.  I do not doubt that they were telling the truth as they saw it, but racism is not about them… and yes, I do see the ridiculous irony in me, a white woman, writing this blog, but I have always found that sitting face-to-face with those suffering has broken my heart, as opposed to watching people on television.

I also acknowledge the irony of me, sitting thousands of miles away with white hair and wrinkles, proposing this.  I had an idea.  Many of you who read our blogs have been here and know how seeing with your own eyes changed you.  Many of you live in the U.S. and want the brutality to stop.  

I beg you to organize to stop the war that is going on in our own country.

1   One of the many things I learned was to not completely trust the media, because none of the journalists would go into the war zones but rather talked to people in Managua and reported from the nicest hotel in the country.  For example, I saw an event with my own eyes and then after going home, read a small blurb about the event in a trusted paper.  The account was skewed and made the event ugly and awful, when what I saw was gentleness and compassion.
2  Like our Kathy …who was a WFP long-term volunteer
3  Those aggressors in the Contra War were funded and advised by the U.S. government as well as including some U.S. soldiers that crossed the border and international law…as well as mining a Nicaragua port.  The leaders of the aggressors did not want to kill U.S. citizens, have that reported, and lose their support.  They did kill one U.S. citizen. Ben Linder, (, and then there was a huge backlash in the States.

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