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Anita's article

Hi, everybody, I took most of our feelings and experiences in our recent 
Nicaragua mission and put them together in an article . Feel free to give me 
any feedback. Poughkeepsie Journal will take a look at it and possible 
publish it too. Will let you know the outcome. 

Anita Pursino 

Mission for Vision 

It is said that people come into your life for a reason. I do believe that it is true. I met Stu one day in October on a Cardiac Teaching day . This “ GringoDoc ” introduced me to the VOSH mission.  VOSH stands for Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity. The timing and circumstances were perfect. January seemed to be a perfect time to escape the frigid winter temperatures in New York and it is a wonderful chance to meet new people and make new friends. Moreover, with no present urgent military, family or teaching obligations , I became more excited.  This would be my first medical mission to Nicaragua from January 13-21, 2001. However, when I mentioned the mission to my family and friends, their response was.... “ Anita, are you crazy ? You want to spend at least a thousand dollars out of your pocket for the airfare, lodging and food to travel to Central America where you have never been before.  You speak ‘muy poco” Spanish ? You really don’t know anyone in the group or anything about what is expected of you .... and along the way, you may pick up a few diseases, malaria, diarrhea etc. and by the way, it was known that nuns and priest were kidnapped, raped or murdered . Did you hear that a doctor was kidnapped just a few days ago in Bosnia ? Do you really want to go ?” 

Thoughts and questions raced through my mind . Have I really gone crazy ? Do I really want to do it ? I do have a 15 year old daughter who needs me .She was worried because there is trouble there. There are also poor people in this country who could use the help. I can easily spend a thousand dollars for something more fun. After a week of some soul searching and serious thinking , I made my decision . I heard a calling and I saw a mission coming my way . I felt that it was the right time and the right thing to do it. I was determined to do it and I could do it. People there need my help. I don’t know how but I do know that God will help me along the way. 

On the day before my departure to Nicaragua, the Gastroenterology Associates offered me two boxes of 16 cans of “boost” ,a supplemental liquid, Rhinebeck Pediatric Associates gave me about 10 cans of Emfamil baby formula.  Many doctors, including Dr. Cecilia Arboleda and Dr Dipti Patel from Hyde Park gave me sample drugs for the mission generously and willingly. I am very grateful to them . How could I refuse them and not take the supplies with me inside my back-pack carry on ? These cans became heavier as I carried them from Poughkeepsie to La Guardia Airport , from La Guardia Airport to Miami Airport and then from Miami to Nicaragua. I realized they were worth more than all the gold and diamonds in the world when they were given to much needed emaciated 12 year old girl, a 16 day old failing to thrive newborn baby and an elderly stroke patient being carried by a family member to be fitted for a wheelchair. I began to understand what my mission was. I managed to have my finger on every pulse of the activities of the mission. We set up our clinic in a public school in Monimbo, Nicaragua.  You could find me triaging patients, charting chief complaints and taking patient history with the help of the translator , patient teaching in “broken Spanish “, assisting in minor surgery of debridement of weeping leg 
ulcer wound ,and changing dressing while the flies kept trying to help me. My duties included dispensing eyeglasses and medications, pushing and lifting wheelchairs and stroller across the school yard due to lack of handicapped access, chasing a hypertensive dementia patient around the school yard while trying to check his blood pressure and almost getting struck in my face , holding a crying infant or comforting a frightened child, wishing that I could just take them home with me instead of just giving them toys, lugging and moving big boxes of supplies with the “boys”.  and being the “ bad” guy to “police“ and crowd /mob control. Welcome to class “third 
world medicine “ 101.Only in this class of “ third world medicine” will you find the desk you were writing on is the same as the examining table. Only in this “ class” would you be able to picture our dental clinic, which wimps like myself would call the “ torture Chamber “. You would see 6 chairs all lined up with dental patients, many children screaming and being held down or tried to escape while their 
rotten teeth being pulled out. After a while, you just had “to scream” with them. Forget about what was taught in nursing school in America. With limited resources, time and a great number of patients, we can’t always “confirm the procedure, explain it to the 
patient, make sure he understands the procedures and sign the consent for the procedure , assess the pain level and emotional support, and give patient instruction and teaching before the discharge and follow up with a phone call the next day” .All the patients received was a stuffed toy and a few toothbrushes. I don’t know if they understood what we did or why we gave them “gifts” afterwards. I do know that it did make us feel better. We also learned to be resourceful. We had to use styrofoam cups to make spacers for many children who had difficulty in using the asthma inhalers. Another healthcare provider said that a man had treated his diabetes for fifteen years by drinking his first urine of the day. I still smile when I think of the patient who asked if we can actually feel the worms moving inside his stomach during an abdominal examination. What an incredible experience ! Naturally, you would find me working everywhere. No wonder I was called the “chameleon” nurse. Someone said that I was a “bad penny ”that kept showing up. Because this was my first mission, I was also given a “rookie award’ unofficially. 

I heard someone say : ‘VOSH, I’m all “Washed Out”. How true it was ! We were all stretched to our physical and mental limits.  We took care of more than a thousand patients every day and we worked for four days straight and put in 12-13 hours a day with very little break . Together , sixty five of us in the mission made the following incredible numbers happen. We had 2276 eye examinations .We dispensed 2021 prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses. We had 25 eye cataract surgeries in a hospital, 1628 plus medical examinations, 465 dental examinations and dispensed 41 recycled wheelchairs , canes and walkers. I was profoundly moved . Indeed, it was hard work yet most of us can’t wait to do it again . It was a “good tired.”. However, there were a few things which happened that were not included in the scheme of our plan. The bus that took us from the airport to our hotel ‘died” and it took us two hours to find a “ jumper cable ” to jump start the bus. There was no running water in the clinic. Two female missionaries were mugged and held at knife-point .We missed the earthquake in El Salvador by 200 miles . Yes, Nicaragua, you “rocked” my third world. My pocket is empty but my heart is shaking with love and filled with gifts of beauty ... of friendship, hope, dignity, courage, love and sacrifices .I am thankful that I was included in this mission . I have learned and I have grown where I was planted. I made more friends for life. I ,too, can see clearly. I can see that I have not gone crazy after all. I am not crazy to think that I have put some sense of sanity back into to this crazy world in which we live . The eye doctor can’t forget the face of an 82 year old farmer who wept with joy like a baby for 15 minutes simply because a cataract surgery helped him see again. Someone was touched by an 82 year old farmer with 33 grandchildren and 50 
great - grandchildren. .His right arm was cut off from a robbery and yet he has an amazing attitude toward life. His life is simple and happy because he has “fresh air” to breath. When I smelled the coffee plants and saw the amazing beautiful wild orchids in the rain forest, hiked an hour around the crater of an active volcano and felt the heat of the smoke hole, had a little boy come running to me and offered me all he had...a banana, these precious moments touched my heart and made all headaches and heartaches disappeared. So, don’t cry for me, “mi amore’, “mi amigos y amigas”. Don’t be afraid that I might get into harm’s way. I have all my businesses in order. For you see, I am willing to risk it all to make a difference.   This Mission of Vision will let the poverty-stricken people 
see what a beautiful world this could be. We all can have a vision and see that different colors of skin can be bonded together by a common calling. Together we all can make a difference...... to make this world healthier, more beautiful and colorful. If you want to 
help or make a donation, come and visit us at 

By Anita Pursino, RN, CCRN, MSN 
27 January 2001 

2012 Panama & Tennessee | 2010 Nueva Esperanza | 2009 Nueva Esperanza | 2008 Nandaime | 2007 Monimbo | 2006 Nandasmo | 2005 Catarina | 2005 Mus | 2004 Nindiri | 2003 Jinotepe | 2002 Ticuantepe | 2001 Monimbo | 2000 La Concepción | 1999 Masatepe | 1998 Niquinohomo | 1997 Lake Yohoa | 1996 Jutiapa | 1995 Omoa | 1994 Vera Paz | 1993 Coatepeque | 1993 Salama | 1992 Chimeltenango | 1991 Chichicastenango | 1990 Comayagua | 1989 San Manuel | 1988 Omoa | 1987 Santa Rosa

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