Translate

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Vaccines and Sloppy Journalism

[Español abajo] (Saturday,10 April) As I write this, we, the Old Farts, are sitting at the women’s public hospital in Managua waiting to see if we keel over after getting our first COVID-19 vaccine. We are so excited and thrilled... not only did it go well... it was easy, organized, and safe. Every person attending us was friendly, kind, and very efficient.

A friend called us this morning and told us that the lines for vaccines had gone down and for us to head over and so we did.

First vaccination for the Old Farts

We got the AstraZeneca vaccine .The Nicaraguan government first vaccinated all the seriously at-risk people... People with kidney failure and on dialysis, people undergoing cancer treatments, etc. with the Sputnik vaccine.   Now the targeted population are those over 60 years of age.

Earlier in the week, I read an article in The Guardian that a friend had told me about and was appalled by what I read. The article certainly did not reflect what I have experienced in Nicaragua as we live here and have weathered the pandemic.

Nicaragua has had low numbers of cases... Why?
    1. Almost all businesses and government buildings that are enclosed require masks, alcohol for cleaning hands and shopping carts, and temperatures are taken before entering.
    2. The population of Nicaragua is young compared to... say... the U. S. A.
    3. Most houses are opened to the air. In regard to many other nations, most Nicaraguans do not have air conditioning.
    4. At the beginning of the pandemic, health workers went house to house explaining about the virus and how to protect yourself and family - they made nearly 5 million home visits.
    5. Despite what The Guardian said, there have not been mass demonstrations. The normally huge gathering in the Plaza on the 19th of July last year was instead broadcast virtually, and people were encouraged to celebrate at home with the slogan "every house is a Plaza."

Nicaragua has had limited testing like most of the world, but when Becca thought she might have COVID, she was tested. Read her blog about getting tested.

As in every country, there probably have been more deaths due to COVID-19 than are reported, but absolutely nothing like what The Guardian reported. Why do I think that? Because we run a health clinic that has its fingers on the pulse of a crowded and poverty-stricken community. Our Nueva Vida Clinic staff has only seen a few deaths that could have had the virus as a contributing factor along with diabetes, hypertension, and kidney failure.

The Center for Disease Control reports that deaths in the U.S. due to Covid-19 are likely to be 35% higher than has been reported.  Many people everywhere decide not to go get medical care.

So why is the Nicaraguan government getting such bad press regarding health care? 

Republican strategist Karl Rove includes in his playbook how to win using the strategy of attacking an opponent's strength. "It is simple: In a political environment where perception often trumps policy, mount early challenges to your opponent's strongest attributes to raise questions and create an alternative image in the minds of voters."

Among the many achievements of the Sandinista government over the last 15 years, health care - including the successful response to COVID - is one of this government's greatest achievements.  So why would a news media known for being left-leaning report such erroneous information?

Well, when I asked our Community members on our front porch, Becca said, "sloppy reporting.  They take information from someone that they trust and never check the sources."

When it comes to Nicaragua, this is what we see all the way from PBS/NPR to Democracy Now to The Guardian...  they have people they trust within a country and never come to Nicaragua to ask the people themselves or see with their own eyes.  Sloppy journalism indeed.

And such sloppy work plays right into the Karl Rove handbook which - I think - should appall their editors.

-Kathleen

[English above] (Sábado 10 de abril) Mientras escribo esto, nosotros, los Viejos, estamos sentados en el hospital público dedicado a la salud de la mujer en Managua esperando a ver si nos derrumbamos después de recibir nuestra primera vacuna COVID-19. Estamos muy emocionados ... no solo salió bien todo pero fue fácil, organizado y seguro. Todas las personas que nos atendieron fueron amables y muy eficientes.

Un amigo nos llamó esta mañana y nos dijo que las filas para las vacunas se habían reducido y que nos dirigiéramos al hospital y así lo hicimos en carrera.

Primera vacuna para nosotros los Viejos

Recibimos la vacuna AstraZeneca. El gobierno nicaragüense primero vacunó a todas las personas en grave riesgo ... Personas con insuficiencia renal y en diálisis, personas en tratamiento contra el cáncer, etc. con la vacuna Sputnik. Ahora la población objetivo es los mayores de 60 años.

A principios de semana, leí un artículo en The Guardian del que me había hablado un amigo y estaba consternada por lo que leí. El artículo ciertamente no refleja lo que he experimentado en Nicaragua, nosotros que vivimos aquí y hemos vivido la pandemia aqui.

Nicaragua ha tenido pocos casos de COVID-19 ... ¿Por qué?
    1. Casi todas las empresas y edificios gubernamentales que están cerrados requieren mascarillas, alcohol para lavarse las manos y los carritos de compras, y se toman las temperaturas antes de ingresar.
    2. La población de Nicaragua es joven en comparación con ... digamos ... los EE. UU.
    3. La mayoría de las casas están abiertas al aire. Con respecto a muchas otras naciones, la mayoría de los nicaragüenses no tiene aire acondicionado.
    4. Al comienzo de la pandemia, los trabajadores de la salud iban de casa en casa explicando sobre el virus y cómo protegerse y proteger a su familia; hicieron casi 5 millones de visitas domiciliarias.
    5. A pesar de lo que dijo The Guardian, no ha habido manifestaciones masivas. En cambio, la gran celebracion en la Plaza el 19 de julio del año pasado se transmitió virtualmente y se animó a la gente a celebrar en casa con el lema "cada casa es una plaza".

Nicaragua ha tenido pruebas limitadas como la mayoría de los paises del mundo, pero cuando Becca pensó que podría tener COVID, le hicieron la prueba. Lea su blog sobre la experiencia de hacerse la prueba.

Como en todos los países, probablemente ha habido más muertes por COVID-19 de las que se informan, pero absolutamente nada como lo que informó The Guardian. ¿Por qué pienso eso? Porque manejamos una clínica de salud que tiene en sus dedos el pulso de una comunidad abarrotada y golpeada por la pobreza. Nuestro personal de la Clínica Nueva Vida solo ha visto algunas muertes que podrían haber tenido el virus como un factor contribuyente junto con la diabetes, la hipertensión y la insuficiencia renal.

El Centro para el Control de Enfermedades informa que es probable que las muertes en los EE. UU. debidas a Covid-19 sean un 35% más altas de lo que se ha informado oficialmente. Muchas personas en todas partes deciden no ir a buscar atención médica.

Entonces, ¿por qué el gobierno de Nicaragua está recibiendo tan mala fama en la prensa con respecto a la atención médica?


Entre los muchos logros del gobierno sandinista en los últimos 15 años, la atención médica, incluida la respuesta exitosa al COVID, es uno de los mayores logros de este gobierno. Entonces, ¿por qué un medio noticioso conocido por su tendencia a la izquierda reportaría información tan errónea?

Bueno, cuando les pregunté a los miembros de nuestra comunidad en nuestro porche, Becca dijo: "informes descuidados. Toman información de alguien en quien confían y nunca verifican las fuentes".

Cuando se trata de Nicaragua, esto es lo que vemos desde PBS / NPR hasta Democracy Now y The Guardian ... tienen personas en las que confían dentro de un país y nunca vienen a Nicaragua para preguntarle a la gente o ver con sus propios ojos. De hecho, periodismo descuidado.

Y un trabajo tan descuidado encaja perfectamente en el manual de Karl Rove que, creo, debería horrorizar a sus editores.

-Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:




Saturday, April 10, 2021

Is It Normal? ... Really?

We learned yesterday (Thursday) that five people were murdered in Rock Hill:  an A/C repair man, a prominent doctor, his wife, and their two grandchildren. They were killed by a professional football player who committed suicide today as police surrounded his house.  Mike and Sarah went to college with the grandparents, Barbara and Robert Lesslie, and Mama went to church with them.

Within just the past six months we have known two sets of murdered families or known their families.  The other was our dear friend, Jenny's, sister and her husband by the hands of his father, who then killed himself while the sister's child hid and survived.

Mass shootings or even multiple or single shootings in the United States have long ago gotten to be the norm.  But it is not normal...  not for Jenny's whole family and especially the son who survived - they are dealing with trauma and loss.

Not for the Lesslie's son... He has lost his parents and his precious young ones in one horrid act.  Their church has lost loyal members and their friends and other family members have not only lost their loved ones but now are living with the trauma of violent murders.

With the murder of Jenny's sister and husband, they knew their killer.  Can you imagine the horror of having your own father shoot your wife and you?

With the Lesslie's murders, can you imagine the helplessness of knowing you can't protect your grandchildren?  Or just working a routine service call and suddenly facing someone with a gun?

Besides the death... The terror is overwhelming.

My sister-in-law's family member teaches with the football player's mother... She is a good teacher I was told.  Can you imagine having to not only have to cope with the suicide of your child but also that he took five people's lives including those of two small children?

It is tragic from every angle from which one might choose to view these murders.  And most definitely these acts of violence should not be normal.  Never.

And yet...

The shock is not serious enough to force action against the ease in which guns can be purchased.    I don't know how one can get the U. S. government to ignore the money and legislate on behalf of their citizens... to protect them.  More U.S. citizens have been killed in the last 50 years by guns than U.S. soldiers in all the wars and non-wars (i.e. conflicts like Vietnam) combined that the US has ever been in (https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/las-vegas-shooting/more-americans-killed-guns-1968-all-u-s-wars-combined-n807156).

In the US we have the highest number of guns owned... 120.5 per 100 people.  The next highest is Yemen with 52.8 per 100 people.  (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081).

Globally, in just 2021, the U. S. ranks 7th in the number of deaths by guns (per 100,000 people) (https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/gun-deaths-by-country).  




Japan has the lowest number of deaths with their strict gun laws.  Honduras has the highest with 60 per 100,000, third is El Salvador with 45, and fourth is Guatemala with 35.  Note: these are the nations that the immigrants who are flooding the US borders are coming from.

The U. S. goes to war and bombs to protect our so-call freedoms and interests but will not legislate to protect the freedoms, interests, and lives of Jenny's sister or the Lesslies.

In the U.S., shootings are normal events to cope with... along with COVID-19 deaths, school drills for shootings (held like fire drills), mental illness, and prisons over-flowing with the mentally ill and drug offenders.

Take it from someone who lives in a different country, none of these are normal.  Those who live in the US should not have to choose to live with this.

And yet...

- Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Future Fridays: The. Most. Pressing. Issue.

This Future Friday, let me tell you about our family endeavor.  I've been writing about solar panels for the CDCA and the clinic...well, the Woodocks (Woodard/Murdock) have joined this parade.

Coury Joseph Jessica Tiff Daniel - New Year's Eve - 2014/12/31

Coury and Cassie (living in California) donated early on.  Daniel and Mike (living here) have been negotiating with the solar company to get good prices and specs for the installations.

Tiff and Liz (living in Texas) are matching gifts given to the project in honor of their wedding that happened in July 2020...instead of friends and family joining them here for their celebration in December 2020...COVID...sigh.  Here is the link if you do Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/donate/784271735768302/?fundraiser_source=external_url 

Joseph and Alex (living in New Jersey) are sending out thank you letters for us for the donations.

And Jessica (living in Massachusetts) has an art "channel" on YouTube and is auctioning a painting she did of a Nicaraguan scene.  You can see the video of her painting as she explains HOW climate change is affecting Nicaragua.  It is about 2 and 1/2 minutes long.   Here is the link.  https://youtu.be/7_6zLliBpr8 

It warms our parental hearts to have all the kids involved, but not surprising.... Some own their own homes, have solar panels, one has an electric car, and all the family knows that climate change is THE. MOST. PRESSING.  ISSUE.

Helen Yuill wrote in the the February 11th NicaNotes...

In the lead up to COP26 [the 26th meeting in Nov. 2021 of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change], the Nicaraguan representative Dr Paul Oquist, argues that the high level of social and economic destruction caused by Covid-19 and its impact on humanity will be ‘small, transient and recoverable’ compared with the potential total, irreversible destruction of the climate crisis.". https://afgj.org/nicanotes-nicaragua-cop26-climate-justice-and-reparations 

know it is hard to imagine something worse coming down the pike, but we have to.  We must imagine, work, and throw money, brain power, energy, and political will at climate change.   

IT. IS. THE. MOST. PRESSING. ISSUE.

- Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Assembly of People into Giving a Sh*t: Me and Ted Cruz

In the wee hours of Friday morning, Mama woke up with serious pain, and after trying to determine what was going on, Daniel flew through the empty roads of Managua with Mike, Mama, and me going to the hospital.

Mama is 91 years old. She came to Nicaragua Christmas of 2019 to stay a few months, but with COVID-19, she has been stuck here since...much to our great delight. She has been doing very well until the last two weeks when her health has been getting a bit shakier.

After we got to the hospital emergency room and many hours later, the ER doc determined that she had a case of acute pancreatitis. She had to be admitted. So, as I write this on Saturday, she is sleeping in a nice hospital bed with four pillows. I have WIFI. Sarah who stayed with her last night so I could sleep…bless her heart…slept on a pull-out couch with sheets, pillow and blanket. The room is air-conditioned. Everyone in and around the hospital follows PPE protocols to the max. Nurses come in with rolling stations to take her vitals. Mama’s internist speaks English as well as Spanish, so Mama can talk to him directly. And it is really nice, and all I can think of is how glad I am that she can afford to be in this hospital with her insurance so that she feels as comfortable as she can.


 
Nicaraguan public hospitals are great. But they cannot afford all the niceties that this particular private hospital can. This same week, Diana’s son…our office administrator… had surgery in a public children’s hospital…one of the new hospitals built in the last years. He had a good bed. He was in a good clean room and she had a chair to sit with him. The staff did their best to follow PPE protocols.

When Hagan, Diana’s son, went home they did not have a hospital bill. None. So far, we’ve paid out $700 for Mama's ER bill and - I know – even that is a small cost compared to the U.S. health system.

The other thing that I am grateful for is that this private hospital has thorough testing laboratories: besides a battery of blood tests, she has had several EKGs and an ultrasound. The ER doctor thought that maybe Mama was having a heart attack until all the blood work results came back and her pancreas enzymes were “out the roof” and “wacky”…those are both medical terms, I am sure.

I kept thinking about our hemoglobin laboratory machine at our Nueva Vida Health Clinic being broken. What if someone right now had serious pain like Mama's and we could not test them until we come up with the $6,500 needed to replace the machine?

In many ways our clinic services are limited by funding, as are the public hospitals here. Nicaragua is a poor nation and even poor this government has taken amazing steps to bring the quality and access to health care up, but they cannot provide what this private hospital does. Because not only do the public hospitals NOT charge their patients, but this private hospital has a robust tourism plastic surgery service and the hospital was built by the only Central American billionaire who lives and prospers in this poor nation. The hospital is also on the side of Managua that is completely opposite of where we live. Besides being opposite locality-wise…the neighborhoods are wealthier over around the hospital. More infrastructure…more resources…well, you get my drift.

Mama woke up a bit ago and being bored asked me about news. I told her about Sen. Ted Cruz getting in trouble when he flew to Cancun instead of being with his fellow Texans in their time of need. She nodded and smiled…and I thought to myself, “he is in solidarity just about as well as I am, sitting here in the A/C in a cushioned chair in the ‘fancy’ hospital. Cruz wanted to be a ‘good dad’ as he said and I want to be a good daughter.” I should reread my blog on hypocrisy.

My bottom line is that I wish every Nicaraguan could come to a hospital like this and walk out with no bill, unlike we will. I wish every Texan had water and heat no matter the neighborhood they live in. I wish every person on earth had what they need to live and then a bit more to be more comfortable. I do hope that my trying to bring that last bit to fruition makes me not AS hypocritical as Ted Cruz, but I’m not so sure it does.
-Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Assembly of People Into Giving a S**t: Mardi Gras

In three days it will be Ash Wednesday... The start of Lent.  For those who are not followers of the liturgical calendar... It is the 40 days before Easter, but omitting the Sundays.  A time to prepare ourselves for the remembrance of the suffering and death of Jesus. 

Many forgo sweets, alcohol, or other luxuries during this time.  Many in the early church fasted for the 6 days... Ate each Sunday... And continued fasting on the following Monday.

Almost like Ramadan... Fasting for long periods of time.

Because of the long fasts, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday became a blow-out party. And believe it or not the blow-out party is the topic of this blog.

2014 Mardi Gras - Nica style - Mike, Joseph, Coury, Daniel 

I love celebrating.  As I age, I sometimes... no often times... get tired of doing all the preparations for parties, but in my better times I know that life must be celebrated.

I love Mardi Gras... The masks, the beads, the silliness, the joy.  We were in New Orleans once for Mardi Gras and it was a sight to behold.  Parades, costumes, and joy everywhere.  At midnight beginning Ash Wednesday everything stopped.  Restaurants and bars closed their doors... Lights went out... People went home... And quiet settled in the district.

During the pandemic it feels like every day is midnight before Ash Wednesday.

But all of us must remember that during Lent, Sundays are excluded... Why?  Because Sunday is the day of celebrating the resurrection... Celebrating life.

In most worship services one would never know that people have joined to celebrate the resurrection...life.  One can feel the joy in many African American churches with gospel music reaching the heavens.

Can you imagine every Sunday being a celebration of life in all its glory?  If I could, worship would have singing, dancing, laughing, and balloons, confetti, and maybe some beads.  If I could there would be hugging, holding hands, and more laughing. 

Life is precious.  Celebrate it this Tuesday... This Mardi Gras... And on all Sundays...and every day.

But safely until the vaccines are in our arms... Then watch out folks... Hugs are coming in!


- Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Future Fridays: No More Playing Around

This Future Friday let's talk about concrete things that we can do to help save our planet.

Solar panels on buildings and homes. We have received $18,500 out of the $31,000 needed to put panels on our clinic and offices. Electricity is expensive here and the panels will pay for themselves in two-and-a-half years. We just need the cash up front. If you have funds to share, it will help greatly, and if you can put panels on your homes and businesses that will also help reduce our carbon footprints.

Trees...not lawns...save carbon. No need to cut the grass. Moss is a great carbon absorber and we are looking at ways to plant moss. It is a bit difficult here with six months of no rain. We have lost a few trees due to age, termites, and hurricanes...but we have lots of baby trees growing. Trees not lawns.

Thanks to many of you, we are implementing a digital clinic records keeping program with Hikma Health, saving eight trees a year. You would not believe the paper we go through at the clinic. I'm cleaning out a file cabinet and moving records to the cloud. Here's just a small bit of clinic paper work.




What to do with old paper? Recycling is out of the question, so we reuse old paper by cutting it up to use as note pads. Grocery lists on the fridge. Drawing paper for children. Making crafts for kids. And even printing on the blank backs for other uses. When we have too much to store, we compost the paper.

Becca and Paul use old boxes as mulch to keep weeds down and moisture in their gardens. We try to compost yard leaves and waste…sometimes we have too much, though…lots of trees.

We have installed a filtration system at the Clinic for chemical sewage, to clean it before it goes into the septic tank at the clinic.

Water is precious. Last year the sesame processing plant bought a machine to decrease water usage in the plant by about 75%.

We have a attached bidet in our main bathroom to limit toilet paper use. We wash our dishes by hand and are learning how to use less water. Paul and Becca use their gray water to water plants. We try to only wash full loads of clothes and re-wear our clothes when we are not dirty. We reuse our towels often and our showers are no more than 5 mins. (Full disclosure: Mama's takes longer, being 91 years old.)

We use rags instead of paper towels. We use reusable masks 
mostly. I use a handmade face shield over and over the few times I go out. A great deal of the clinic's PPE is reusable and washable. We make our own chlorine to save on bottles and cost, and are learning how to make our own cleaning materials.

Kathleen garbed for shopping - double masks and hand-made faceshield


We buy sodas and beer in reusable bottles mostly. We rarely buy bottled water but take our own water with us in reusable containers.

We wear clothes until they start to fall apart and mostly buy clothes from secondhand clothing stores. Full disclosure... we do buy new underwear.

We try our best to eat leftovers and not let food go bad. We do compost.

We try to double up on errands so less trips are made out. None of us gets a wild hair and jumps in a car to go get one thing.

We try...and we have a long way to go. We look at our neighbors to learn how to not be so wasteful. People living in poverty do not waste.

We have only one earth...one atmosphere...and all our water is connected. We cannot play at being green…we must be green.

- Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:



Sunday, February 7, 2021

Assembly of People Into Giving a Sh*t: UNITY

When Pres. Joe Biden gave his inaugural address, he talked about unity, never once mentioning bipartisanship. Yet when we watch the news, there is all this complaining about him pushing an aid package through not using bipartisanship. Unity and bipartisanship are not the same thing.


Many of the opposition against the Sandinista party and their governing style here in Nicaragua talk about how their voices are left out… how there is no democracy... much like the Trump supporters who thought the election was stolen from them.

And yet democracy prevailed in both countries…the United States and here in Nicaragua. Those who lost have to realize this and quit seeking to divide us.

Unity does not exclude opposition or diversity, but it does exclude disrespect and hate.

There are times when our Community cannot reach consensus when making decisions. When those times come, we struggle with each other trying to get people to understand our points of view. Sometimes we have to take a break and come back to it. Sometimes we have to step out of the decision-making process and just shut up. And sometimes, someone will remind us of our purpose…our goal…and to let go of our fears. When that happens, we usually come to consensus pretty quickly, because we can then see what is right…what is loving…and there is no room for fear.

The problem is that nations, religions, and politics have a hard time letting go of their fear of losing power.

Living abroad in a nation actively addressing the needs of the poor, I've come to believe that setting consensus aside…setting compromise aside…is sometimes the right choice. When people are hurting, suffering, and dying in poverty…who cares whether we all agree? The right thing to do is to ease the hurt, heal the sick,and eliminate the suffering.

Sometimes the unity is only found in doing the right thing.

If the poor who are Proud Boys…if the poor who are neo-Nazis…are lifted out of poverty - then their hate may ease.

If the poor who are Muslims living in squalor and hunger in destitute countries, are lifted out of poverty - the idea of jihad and suicide bombs will fade to the background.

If the races/religions/sexual preferences are all treated with equal respect, privileges,and rights  - then the hate groups, the violence, and the despair will lessen.

Despair breeds divisiveness as we search to blame SOMEONE ELSE for our despair.

Hope breeds unity as we look to each other and lend a hand knowing that one day we may need a hand helping us as Pres. Biden says often.

photo Shutterstock licensed


United we survive the horrors.

United we clean the air, the water, the atmosphere, the land.

United we lift our brothers and sisters out of poverty…and we all have a happier world.


United we make changes for the good.


Divided we die.

- Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Assembly of People into Giving a Sh*t: Unity

When Pres. Joe Biden gave his inaugural address, he talked about unity, never once mentioning bipartisanship. Yet when we watch the news, there is all this complaining about him pushing an aid package through not using bipartisanship. Unity and bipartisanship are not the same thing.

Many of the opposition against the Sandinista party and their governing style here in Nicaragua talk about how their voices are left out… how there is no democracy... much like the Trump supporters who thought the election was stolen from them.

And yet democracy prevailed in both countries…the United States and here in Nicaragua. Those who lost have to realize this and quit seeking to divide us.

Unity does not exclude opposition or diversity, but it does exclude disrespect and hate.

There are times when our Community cannot reach consensus when making decisions. When those times come, we struggle with each other trying to get people to understand our points of view. Sometimes we have to take a break and come back to it. Sometimes we have to step out of the decision-making process and just shut up. And sometimes, someone will remind us of our purpose…our goal…and to let go of our fears. When that happens, we usually come to consensus pretty quickly, because we can then see what is right…what is loving…and there is no room for fear.

The problem is that nations, religions, and politics have a hard time letting go of their fear of losing power.

Living abroad in a nation actively addressing the needs of the poor, I've come to believe that setting consensus aside…setting compromise aside…is sometimes the right choice. When people are hurting, suffering, and dying in poverty…who cares whether we all agree? The right thing to do is to ease the hurt, heal the sick,and eliminate the suffering.

Sometimes the unity is only found in doing the right thing.

If the poor who are Proud Boys…if the poor who are neo-Nazis…are lifted out of poverty - then their hate may ease.

If the poor who are Muslims living in squalor and hunger in destitute countries, are lifted out of poverty - the idea of jihad and suicide bombs will fade to the background.

If the races/religions/sexual preferences are all treated with equal respect, privileges,and rights  - then the hate groups, the violence, and the despair will lessen.

Despair breeds divisiveness as we search to blame SOMEONE ELSE for our despair.

Hope breeds unity as we look to each other and lend a hand knowing that one day we may need a hand helping us as Pres. Biden says often.

photo Shutterstock licensed


United we survive the horrors.

United we clean the air, the water, the atmosphere, the land.

United we lift our brothers and sisters out of poverty…and we all have a happier world.


United we make changes for the good.


Divided we die.

- Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Future Fridays: Water Must NOT Be Traded as a Commodity

So, the other night we were watching a December episode of A Late Show with Stephen Colbert and he reported that Wall Street is trading WATER like gold and oil. Talk about a splash of cold water in my face! Check this out:

Shutterstock photo

 
How and why would people treat water, the basis of life, like a commodity?

“Climate change, droughts, population growth, and pollution are likely to make water scarcity issues and pricing a hot topic for years to come,” RBC Capital Markets managing director and analyst Deane Dray told Bloomberg. “We are definitely going to watch how this new water futures contract develops.”

I remember when former President Enrique Bolaños (2002-2007) tried to privatize water in Nicaragua. The country rose up in defiance. Although basically health care and education were privatized to a degree, water never was.

Last November, the Nicaragua government voted to open consignments on water to get clean water into areas that do not have access, but water is still in the government's hands.


 
The World Bank estimates by 2025 that 2/3rds of the world’s population will experience a shortage in clean drinking water. Two-thirds!

According to Water for All, they list these ten reasons for not privatizing water
  1. Privatization will lean to rate increases.
  2. Privatization will undermine water quality.
  3. Companies will be responsible to their shareholders and not to consumers.
  4. Privatization will increase corruption.
  5. It will reduce local control and limit the public's right to water.
  6. It will lead to job losses.
  7. Private financing is more costly than public financing.
  8. Privatization is hard to reverse.
  9. It will lead to bulk water exports.
  10. It can leave the poor with no access to clean water.
Privatization of water is terrifying.  We all need to rise up in defiance. This needs to be nipped in the bud NOW.

-Kathleen
*Yet, another reason for 2020 to be a crappy year!

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Organic Peanuts: a Roll of the Dice

Peanuts originated in South America, but are now a global commodity and used in many cooking styles from Thai and many Asian dishes, to African Groundnut Stew, to peanut brittle in the South, and peanut butter eaten world wide.  Not to mention peanut oil.

I hate peanuts. I mean I like the taste of peanuts and I cook with peanuts; but peanut crops are like a harsh mistress to COPROEXNIC (the organic agriculture cooperative) and its farmers. They promise a great deal and seldom come through.

Sesame grows well here. If it rains too much, it usually survives just fine. If there is not enough rain, it can survive…not so with peanuts.

Coffee does pretty well in the higher parts of Nicaragua. It can be damaged with too early rains that then stop after the plants have produced blossoms. Volcanic ash can damage the blossoms and with too much rain at harvest the berries can swell and fall off the plant. The higher temperatures each year is slowly hurting the coffee productions, but coffee is still sturdier than peanuts.

Organic peanut inspection - photo Dave Landstein, Multiple Organics

Peanuts grow in the ground. They are actually legumes, not nuts at all. Peanuts are healthy: high in protein and good fats.

The peanut plants are amazing at fixing nitrogen from the air and putting it in the soil, which is why they are a great crop for the earth to replenish the nitrogen that other plants absorb…but finicky! My heavens! They are finicky!

Because they grow in the ground, they are susceptible to fungi. Too much rain and they get all “fungus-y” which can develop aflatoxins…got that last part “toxins”….that’s right, "poison". Aflatoxin can cause cancer.

Vermin LOVE peanuts. Behind our property, someone grows a field of peanuts. After they harvest, our property gets the many mice and rats who no longer have peanuts to munch on.

Pests LOVE peanuts. If peanuts are not processed in a timely manner then they are infested with bugs, which requires freezing the peanuts to kill the insects.

And for the fungi that creates aflatoxins… one way to reduce aflatoxins is to blanch the peanuts. Now we have TWO additional processes added to the peanuts which gets really costly. Add to that we have YET to find a processor who will process the COPROEXNIC peanuts in a timely and correct manner.

Peanut processing - Once Again Nut Butter visit

BUT when the rains are good and not overly heavy, peanuts grow well here.  Organic peanuts processed well and on time are an excellent cash crop and they build up the soil's nitrogen.

Unlike the other crops that COPROEXNIC grows and markets, peanuts are like the little girl with a curl right in the middle of her forehead…when they are good…they are very, very good…but when they are bad, they are horrid.

Unfortunately, with climate change affecting Nicaragua so much, growing peanuts is getting to be a bit like betting on a roulette wheel and I am no gambler. But the farmers and the managers of COPROEXNIC keep hoping…at least peanuts help the soil.
-Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Assembly of People Into Giving a S**t: Am I on My Own?

As I write this, I am thinking about 25 years ago when our youngest, Joseph, came into the world. We had only been in Nicaragua for a year-and-a-half. I was 41 years old and had already birthed two sons and had a miscarriage. Everything was going well with the pregnancy, which was good, because I was really anxious after the miscarriage.

Public hospitals and even the private hospitals here in Nicaragua gave me the willies since I didn’t speak Spanish and health care was no priority then. We had found an obstetrician who spoke English and was willing to do a home birth.

Our life-style was much rougher then than it is now. We had no telephone. We had no hot water. The electricity went out all the time and with it went the water. We lived out in the middle of the campo on a badly maintained dirt road which was our only access to “civilization” or medical care. Yet we did have tiled floors, showers (when the water was on), and we had a community.

After a false alarm the night before when Mama and Daddy arrived in-country, Mike, Mama and I went bouncing in the truck to see the doctor. On the way home, labor was jostled into full blown.

When it was time to push Joseph out, I learned that the doctor who had been here for a couple of hours waiting, had left to find a phone (no cell phones then) to call the pediatrician to come.

Kathy went with the doctor to use the friend's phone that we borrowed in that house. Pat kept Daddy busy talking with him. Mama was praying. Sarah was watching anxiously for the doctor to return. Jessica was keeping Coury (almost 7 years old) and Daniel (age 3) entertained, and Mike was with me in the bathroom. The next happened in about three minutes…

Mike saved Joseph from being born in a toilet. I pushed once in our bed, and Joseph came plopping out screaming with the cord wrapped around his neck three times. Mike calmed me and unwrapped the cord…as family and community flooded in…and handed me our little Joseph to hold.

Very soon Sarah with a very embarrassed doctor came in. As the post-birthing activities took place…cutting the cord, wrapping Joseph, etc. … my placenta refused to budge.

Then came the scaping manually of the placenta with no anesthesia at all…Mike supported me. Mama prayed and the rest held Joseph, cooed and aahed, and helped Coury and Daniel meet and hold their new brother. I only had to focus on not kicking the doctor in the face.

I have always been offended by couples who say, “We’re pregnant.” After four pregnancies, puking my insides out with morning sickness, back aches, false labor contractions, swollen feet, and being so uncomfortable…I insist that only I was pregnant…WE were having a baby.

I have also said, “Doctors do not deliver babies unless in labor themselves…they help.” After three labors…believe me, neither the midwives nor the doctor worked like I did. 

Joseph's baptism - 1996

But having my community with me meant that labor was easier. I knew before the labor I could count on them to help me if the doctor could not come… and they did. Knowing that the other small ones were being cared for left me to concentrate on relaxing during contractions and Mike coaching me. Knowing that Daddy and Mama were being hosted allowed me to focus on the job at-hand. And I knew when Mike told me the doctor was not here, that Mike would help me get Joseph out safely.

We are interdependent on each other.

No one is completely independent. No one can make their own success by themselves. No one can pull themselves up by their boot straps. And having a baby alone would be terrifying.  We are all interdependent.

Many doctors may think that they are God’s gift to humanity because of all their studying, but without their nurses and lab techs they struggle…I have seen this when they have come to work down here in our Clinic without them. They depend on the support and tests.

Many lawyers may think that they are the right-hand of the law, but without their secretaries and paralegals, they are bogged down in paperwork and may miss crucial aspect found in the books of law.

Many founders of businesses think that they made the business themselves and deserve huge salaries, but without the infrastructure of the roads, electricity and water…without the support of their workers…they would just have good ideas brewing in their brains.

The poor know this. They know that they that they only survive together.

And the rich know that if the poor truly unionize and join together, despite race and religion, they will be a force that demands more equality.

We are all interdependent.

EVERY. SINGLE. LAST. ONE. OF. US.

And that includes cities, states, nations, and continents…even Antarctica is dependent on us to do our part to save the ice.

If climate change has taught anything, it has taught us that we are all dependent on each other. We all share the same air, the same water, the same hurricanes and fires, the same droughts and floods, the same sea-level risings.

When leaders of our world seek to divide us, we need to grab the hands closest to us and keep reaching to bring us all together.  Together we are a force to be reckoned with.
-Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua:



Saturday, January 23, 2021

Assembly of People Into Giving a Sh*t: Hypocritical, Me?

Several years ago, when memes were first brought to my attention, I loved the ones that made fun of First World Problems with a white woman looking distraught with her head in her hand. I thought, “I’m going to do one and post it!” I thought and thought and finally came up with something like “Trying to think of a First World Problem meme and not succeeding” [is a First World Problem].

Today I have been wracking my brain to find an example of how I am hypocritical. I even asked Mike and being the loving (and smart) partner that he is, he, too, couldn’t come up with an example. But not knowing HOW I am hypocritical is hypocritical in and of itself.

Hypocrisy is something that I detest and I try extremely hard not to be hypocritical. I would rather be honest and just admit that in our lives there are places where we fail at self-awareness.

Hypocrisy was one aspect of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections that drove me insane with rage. I remember our dear friend, Josh, saying “2016 is the year that will be known as the most hypocritical year in the U.S.”.

I could not believe all those Christians voting for a man who was extremely unethical, immoral, and blatantly so. I could not believe that there were women who voted for this man who openly talked about grabbing women by their p------. I could not believe that there were poor people who voted for this billionaire who was handed his empire on a silver platter and squandered it. I could not believe there were college graduates who voted for this man who ran a bogus university and made fun of people with disabilities, veterans, and used words like “bigly” and ignored science.

It was a year of hypocrisy. The last four years were years of hypocrisy, but now the U.S. has Pres. Biden and what is one of the first things that he does….

After having his election questioned with people breaking into the Capitol on the grounds of stopping the Congressional vote to approve his win of the presidency, he…Pres. Biden…is still acknowledging Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. Guaido, who has not ever won the Venezuelan presidential elections. Pres. Biden refused to acknowledge the Venezuelan elections because of “irregularities"… sound familiar? If you had listened to Former Pres. Trump rant about U.S. Democrats, it would sound very familiar.

Hypocrisy. We learned on Real Time with Bill Mahr that the woman who was shot and killed in the assault on the Capitol was an Air Force veteran, Ashli Babbit, from San Diego, CA. We learned that living in California, one of the most progressive states in the U.S., she had to borrow from a lending firm at 169% interest in order to purchase her family’s small business -  a pool supply company. How can such a lending firm operate within the laws of one of the most progressive states? Hypocrisy.

Here in Nicaragua closer to our home, the opposition to this present Sandinista government consists of the local hierarchy of the Catholic Church, many intellectuals, former Sandinistas who fought against the U.S.-backed dictatorships of the Somoza family, the insurrectionists of the Contra War in the 1980s, as well as others. The Catholic Church leaders called for arms in 2018…they were even taped as saying they would work with homosexuals, drug traffickers, and abortionists to overthrow this government. Hypocrisy.

The intellectuals thought they were the only ones capable of running a country like Nicaragua, despite the fact that the Sandinistas have tremendously improved the nation's infrastructure, education, health care in the country, and have lifted so many out of poverty. The intellectuals think they are the only ones who understand “democracy” even though the poor who vote have differed greatly with them, by voting the Sandinistas into office by more than a majority in each election. Hypocrisy.

And in 2018 many of the disillusioned Sandinista founders and fighters went to the U.S. Congress to ask for support for their own attempt at a coup here. The highest form of hypocrisy.

Jesus said, “Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? How dare you say to your brother, ‘Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,’ when you have a log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matt 7:3-5) 

As individuals, societies, and nations, before we think we know best for someone else, we need to seriously removed the blinders off our own eyes.

We need to look at ourselves, our own societies, our own nations, our own biases and eliminate them BEFORE we going poking around in someone else’s life, society, and nation.

We must be honest…and clear sighted…that is the path forward.
-Kathleen

NOTE: If you are reading this blog using the mobile version,click on "web version" to see the full blog with all the features including "subscribe to blog by email".  

Please join us and also share on your social media.

Donate here to the ongoing work of the CDCA with the poor in Nicaragua: