||Don Bosco, Monimbo, Masaya, Nicaragua -- Mission Report|
2007 NEVOSH MISSION TO MONIMBO NICARAGUA
as prepared by Eileen Tiexera
Thank you Kevin Somerville for these figures!
As always the numbers are impressive! I am also quite sure the numbers are not reflective of all those folks that were helped simply by a smile, touch or a simple act of kindness. There is always an abundance of that which costs so little. The children especially loved “Mr. Incredible”! Thank you Peter Palumbo!
A huge thank you to all that participated so selflessly once again with NEVOSH. We are eternally grateful to Joe England and Carl Sakovits!! Not only did they have to figure out, muddle through, make do, make up, talk through, referee, chief, cook and bottle wash, but they had to do it all in the very unsure and tenuous political climate in Nicaragua this year! We cannot thank you enough! PLEASE KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!
It was so nice to have the Hart family in ¾ force this year. Their presence adds so much richness to the missions! We missed you this year David! Full family next year, please David! An epic thank you to David and Brady, the Hart Brothers (sounds famous!) for the wonderful NEVOSH website. It is well worth checking out and sharing!
It is also wonderful seeing young teens, young adults and students returning year after year! Their lives will forever be enriched.
This year I feel there was so much more teaching that went on in all areas of the mission. Improving the Nicaraguan’s quality of life without disrupting their culture is something that most of us are striving for. Thank you Ali Hocek, for getting us to put our “thinking caps” on before embarking on this mission!
I am endlessly amazed at how ingenious our fellow workers can be when it comes to “getting things right” or “fixing things that aren’t”.....what to do when the electricity goes out.... rigging the wheelchairs for comfort.....getting those eyeglasses to fit just so......figuring out ways to use Colace (that would be the farmacia)......and just plain figuring out the logistics of the entire clinic! Thank you to all. It was a pleasure meeting new folks, re-connecting with old, and seeing new and old Nica friends as well! Namaste, Eileen T
The faces, smiles, laughter and tears are etched across your heart. The one thing you pray is, you won't forget. You won't desert them after you have given them communication once again to the life that surrounds them. Gratefully, Sue Burns
Just thought I'd let you know that the mission was the realization of something I have really wanted to do for a long time and I am delighted to report that you, Diane, Joe and Steve had me well prepared for what it would be like. Sure hope I can come again! Mary Berthalot
I can't believe were already home. Mr. Incredible (that would be Peter Palumbo!!)
I worked in the medical clinic in Nicaragua, my most impressive experience
this year was what I witnessed in audiology. I had just eaten lunch and my
brain was not yet back in working condition so I popped into the audiology
department. Just then, Carol H. was fitting a girl with hearing aids in
both ears. The girl has profound hearing loss. As I understand it, I
witnessed her hear human voices for the first time when Carol turned the
hearing aids on. Her mother was naturally choked up as she watched her
daughter smile in excitement of hearing for the first time. It was
explained to me that the girl could not understand human speech yet because
she had never heard it before (this was something that had never occurred to
me). Bruce Fischer
I guess my Monimbo story is, that I have beautiful butterfly pictures, from Mombacho, that I can look at as I wait to go into the operating room to have my fibular fracture repaired. The break is above the ant. tib/fib ligament so it needs a plate & screws. We are awaiting the MRI results to see if I messed up any thing other than the bone. Love to you all, Lee
Day 3 of the Clinic, Wednesday afternoon. The cooling breezes had ceased for a time, and the optical dispensary was heating up with the throng of patients waiting for glasses. By this time in the mission, the dispensary had become the place to hang out for any number of translators and local hangers on. This is only to be expected, as perfect crowd control in a VOSH dispensary is elusive at best. The patients were in the mix, however, and still need glasses. Nancy Hart had picked one for me to dispense and I was startled to see the prescription. The patient was to receive a shiny pair of high minus glasses. With eleven diopters of correction in my hand, I called out the patient’s name, peering around the room for the fellow wearing some kind of high minus glasses. To my surprise, the gentle hombre of about my age that responded wore no glasses. Even more astoundingly, given that, he carried no cane and was apparently alone and unassisted. He looked to the floor and shuffled to the counter, feeling for it and registering its location as he arrived. Being a curious one, I thought I should engage him in a little conversation before throwing some minus elevens on his face and sending him on his way. I saw on his registration form that he listed his work as being a photographer. I asked him if he was an artist. He said he was not an artist, he was a photographer. I asked what type of photographs he liked to take. He indicated that he would show me. He started to grapple with the satchel at his side, feeling for the zipper. The zipper was stuck in the middle and had become detached from one side of the bag. Finding the stuck zipper as a waypoint with one hand, he reached in through the negated zipper seam with the other hand and pulled out a manila envelope, mildly crumpled from being gently handled for some time. He pulled out a stack of color 8 by 10’s and began the process of deciding which he would show me first. He held the stack of prints about one inch from his nose and scanned over each one in turn, handing me a selected few as he went. His photos, by the way, were good. They were standard fare commercial photography, showing posed families, every member and especially the children dressed up. He had photos of men at work, showing their trade. I told him that he had been wrong about something he had said when first we met. I told him he WAS an artist. After giving him a moment to clear a tear, I proceeded to adjust the frames for his face. The difference in his vision was marked, of course. It is always refreshing to see a patient walking out of the dispensary with their new eyeglasses on their face rather than tucked neatly into a pocket. In this photographer’s case, he walked out wearing his minus elevens with an enormous smile emerging as a new feature on his face. He promenaded with his head held high, his shuffle gone, and his arms no longer feeling for the next wall. I am glad to have been lucky enough to meet this hombre. His dedication to his art despite a handicap that directly impacted upon his craft is an awe inspiring lesson that I will take from the 2007 trip. Brady Hart
Ken Startz, 2005 was the first time audiology was added to the VOSH group and since I was the only Hearing Care Practitioner on the mission, I was limited to fitting 50 patients with the brand new hearing aids that had been donated by Beltone North America.
In 2006, two other Beltone New England Hearing Care Practitioners joined me on this mission and we were able to dispense 140 hearing aids (100 new aids had been donated by Beltone and 37 used/reconditioned aids had been collected by our Beltone New England clinics).
This year was incredibly rewarding for audiology as three other Beltone New England Hearing Care Practitioners joined me (Carol Hamilton, AJ Roy, and Sue Burns). Thanks to our other volunteers (Stacy and John Erickson and Sue and Nancy Money), along with some super translators, we were able to exceed even my own expectations by fitting 237 patients with hearing aids. Many of our patients had been formally diagnosed as deaf/mute since birth but left our clinic hearing the sweet sounds of life. Of the 40+ students that arrived from the local School for the Deaf, more than half of them left our clinic being able to hear for the first time in their lives. Needless to say, our clinic was always an emotional roller coaster based on the excitement of sharing people hear for the first time and consoling those that we simply could not help. We want to mention special thanks to our generous donors which include; Beltone North America, Beltone New England, Egger Corporation, Ray-O-Vac, AudioCare, and Oak Tree Products.
There were so many heartwarming stories of little children that had never heard their parent’s voices as well as adults that had never heard their children’s voices until fitted with our hearing aids. Here are just a few examples of these miracles:
The Parents that never gave up! Carlos, age 11, had visited the clinic last year but no one was able to calm him enough to take an audiogram. Even when his mother returned with the father the boy could not sit still enough to take the test. This year they waited all day in line but were refused entry so they came back the next day. Although still very hyperactive, this year Carlos was able to be tested and found to have a profound hearing loss. He was fitted with two high power BTE (behind the ear) hearing aids that hung below his tiny ears. As the aids were turned on to max power, there was an immediate response. He nodded and stomped his feet and clapped his hands just to hear the sound. He made a sound with his own voice in an “ahhhh” which he repeated over and over just to hear the sound of his voice. Of course he didn’t know any words as he had never heard speech, but he loved the sound and vibration of his voice. He came over to each station to thank us with a beaming smile. The first thing we did was teach him to say "MaMa." Needless to say we all were crying, smiling, and applauding.
This little girl had waited with her mother since 7am and this picture was taken at 4pm. They never would leave their place in line because they would have to go to the end of the line. She was diagnosed a deaf/mute since birth. That is the smile of someone that just received the gift of hearing for the first time in her life....
We are already in high gear soliciting for donations for next year and I thanks to me taking time to author and send daily e-mails and pictures to our generous donors each morning of our mission, we already have commitments for even more donations for next year. On behalf of the audiology team, we all thank VOSH for the opportunity to travel and work with this wonderful family of volunteers. You guys are simply awesome!!! Ken Startz, HCP Audiology
It was wonderful to see all my old VOSH friends... esp. my nurse cronies in the Farmacia.....as usual we managed to get an overwhelming job done with lots of laughs & fun!! I remember the little girl sitting in the Farmacia with her pet chicken....our amazing interpreters Marcos & Veronica...counting, laughing, counting, crying...& the many uses of Colace!! Love, Diane Forest
I love you all. We are a great team. It really helps you examine your soul. Just a few words of kindness, a hand to hold, a hug, a smile makes a difference in someone's life. It gives them hope, love and meaning to go on. It provides them with food for the soul and heart. How fortunate and privileged are we to be a part of this. Carol Peltier
The week went so fast, I can't remember anything......Larry G (Very good Larry!) OK...My exciting moment of the mission was having the Nicaragua national newspaper La Prensa delivered to me, and opening it up to find photos of Ken Warburton and myself, along with a great story about our wonderful VOSH group. Larry G
There was a 14 year old boy whom Sue had pointed out to me looked very sad. His audio presented Left ear below 90dB and Right ear about 70dB flat loss. Clearly this young man lived n his own world.
He sat next to my programming table as I prepared a new Beltone MiniPas aid for his Right ear. He mostly stared at the floor or my table. I tried to get some kind of response from him by smiling, winking, and touching his hand, all with no response. He stared at the floor. I held his chin in my hand and made eye contact with him and showed him the aid. I inserted the mold and was watching him as I turned the aid on. His face lit up with a smile from ear to ear. In my broken Spanish I asked him if he could hear me. He looked directly into my eyes and smiled and nodded in approval. He heard all the room noise. As the interpreter was explaining the care of the aid, he never stopped smiling.
Carlos Manuel, age 11, had visited the clinic last year. No one was able to calm him enough to take an audiogram. Even when his mother returned with the father the boy could not sit still enough to take the test. This year Carlos was able to be tested. All but some low frequencies were below 100dB.
This boy was hyperactive, but very pleasant. He had learned a little sign language, but his mother did not sign. I fit him with 2 new 74 HP BTEs. The aids hung below his tiny ears, but I knew I had to give him maximum power if we were to get any hearing. As I turned on both aids there was an immediate response. He nodded and stomped his feet and clapped his hands just to hear the sound. He made a sound with his own voice in an “ahhhh” which he repeated over and over just to hear the sound of his voice. Of course he didn’t know any words as he had never heard speech, but he loved the sound and vibration of his voice.
He constantly tapped, clapped and stomped everything he could to make sound. He came to each station to thank us. When he came to hug me his smile was beaming and he clapped his hands almost in applause fashion. A grandmother, daughter and granddaughter all came together. It was the 82 year old grandmother whose hearing was tested. She presented with a 90dB flat loss in the Right and the Left was dead. When I turned the aid on, she remained still. There was no expression. Roger, the interpreter spoke to her and tried to get a response. She still and looked forward with no response. Finally I asked her granddaughter to say something to her. The woman’s eyes filled with tears and the tears ran down her face. When she spoke, she said she had never heard her granddaughter’s voice before. In seconds we were all sobbing and hugging. Her daughter commented to me that her mother had been silent for years, not even attempting to speak with her family. Now she can share conversation. It is not only the children who benefit. Carol Hamilton Audiology
I was disheartened (like most) by the Rotary's rules and behavior esp. the daily numbers of people seen. Love to all, DBK
that came through our site had listed his work/occupation as “healer”. I
inquired about his work and he did describe his work as medical “healing.”
Upon further inquiry he told of his being diagnosed as diabetic (Type II)
some twelve years previous and had taken his pills for
This is the story of the Wed. afternoon quest for the uninformed that were in need of wheelchairs that turned into the Junior road show through Masaya. Joe and I, on a walkabout outside the gates, discovered a backwardly mobile young man, pushing a homemade chair with one foot. While trying to find out who might be able to bring him, we lost him in a cloud of dust. Continuing on, hoping that the guy would avail himself of us (he did show), we met Junior, the Nica-born, Western-bred, self-described president of Nicaragua, at once erudite and delusional, philosophical and ranting, inspiring laughter from those who knew and enjoyed his shtick, and a wary contempt from those who didn’t. He promised us he could drum up a slew of people who needed chairs. Joe and I got him inside with us, and he started working the lines, finding 3 or 4 addresses in no time. I grabbed him, Evan, and Lenin and we were on the road. A hysterical hour or so later, (ok, there were some misses) we had run through several Masaya neighborhoods, constantly having to re-acquire Junior, (who would wander off talking to people), a disabled-collection service that was as absurd as it was amazing. Along the way we heard stories about his inventions (a cigarette that cures cancer) his businesses (Taca Air, among others), police repression and the millions he had waiting for him in a briefcase. We rolled into the mobility area, fit the 3 folks for chairs, packed up and were back delivering before the sun was low. For those 3 people, it was the only way they would have gotten to the clinic, and Junior was their angel. While everyone probably has their own Junior stories (and our last one in Granada did not end well), this was his moment in the sun, and while there may have been ulterior motives, he did help our cause greatly, and he was the impetus for a venture for Evan and I that we will never forget. Dave Pritchard
Eye people will appreciate this...you know the shoes are gettin better when Jackson's patient requested Progressive Transitions. I enjoyed the good times, good people and I've been bragging about the fish I caught! --jane
My story is just an interesting coincidence in a moment of time- Joe and I were traveling to the airport on our way home. As we were entering Tipitapa (sp) as I began reflecting out loud about the slums we had seen and the view of what a slum was to most people in the US. We had been through Nandaime a day earlier; this is the site under consideration for next year. I remarked how people back home might think some of the neighborhoods in N. Providence were slums, but compared to the slums in Nicaragua they would not be considered bad at all. Joe corrected me and stated the slums at home were in S. Providence to which I stated that people still had no concept of how bad a slum could be. I then looked up to see a bus packing area and sitting in the middle of the lot was a school bus from of all places North Providence. Maryann England
THE YOUNG MAN WHO CAME TO BE A SUPPORT TO HIS FRIEND:
He walked in with his friend. Both of the young men obviously were buddies.
As soon as they entered the clinic they started signing to each other. Instantly I thought of my son Matthew, he shared his enthusiasm for life. His eyes were never still and didn't miss anything going on in the audiology clinic. He was like any typical teenager of 17, joking with his friend. Their hands traveled like a butterflies and communicating without letting others know what they were saying to each other. This young man had a twinkle in his eye and exuberance for life. Not to mention courage. He had never heard a human voice since birth. He did not tell his parents where he was going that morning with his friend. He only came as a support for his good friend. He came without expectations. He walked away hearing in both his ears and going home to parents. That night he would hear their voices for the first time in his life.
THE TWIN: He was probably only six and was a twin. There was a sadness about him and we were told he was mentally challenged. The twin boys were premature, one could hear and the other could not. One could go to school and the other couldn't. The school where we set up the clinic had denied him entrance because he could not hear. The school for the deaf had denied him because he did not have a hearing aid. The smile on his face when he heard for the first time revealed they might have been wrong. He just needed to hear, to speak and learn. He already learned to say, "MaMa" for the first time.
THE SAD 14 YEAR OLD: He was 14 when he walked into the clinic. When you looked at his face there was an incredible sadness! He sat for hours watching all the procedures, never smiling like the others sitting around him. When the aids were put on him for the first time, he smiled.
THELADY IN THE RED WHEELCHAIR:
She came with her son. She sat with dignity in her white and black dress, perfectly clean with her hair all in place. Her son stood behind her like the royal guard. He carefully, wheeled her in place in her new red wheel chair. I looked down at her feet and realized she had no shoes. Then I looked closer at her feet expecting them to be dirty from walking on the dirt roads and paths that led to our clinic. I suddenly realized she had no shoes because she had no need. She had been carried to our clinic by her son. Her feet were not dirty, because they had never touched the ground. I looked down at her audiogram and I realized we could help one ear to hear better. I bent down to her and I said, "We are going to put a hearing aid in your right ear and help you hear." She replied, "If it is God's will." I said to her, "It is God's will and today you will hear." I looked up at her son and touched his arm and said, "It has been a long day. But it has been a very good day."
THE PARENTS THAT NEVER GAVE UP: They both came. In line for hours. The people started to form in line waiting from 7 in the morning. The heat rose to around 90 degrees, dust blowing, lines formed outside of clinics. If they were fortunate enough they could grab a small school desk to sit in, otherwise they stood. Without water for the most part, without food and it would be difficult to go the bathroom because if they left the line they would lose their place. This couple with this little boy of 5 or 6, did this three times. They came last year and waited and waited to be told we could help him. He was very active and it was hard to communicate to him what to expect, because he had never heard sound. They came on Tuesday, we could not determine if he was hearing or not. Wednesday they came again and waited. Finally, he responded. He was brought into the fitting area, he was grinning and so excited about everything that was going on. He would go from one table to another to see and watch everything that was going on. Always with a smile and great interest. When he came in front of me, I learned they had tried and it was really suspect of whether he had been taught before on how to respond so he could get some free hearing aids. I looked at the audiogram, looked at his face and the hope of his parents. It was worth the chance to see if we could make a difference. He didn't move when I put the impression material in his ears, he just held the little red stuff animal we had given him. We didn't know if that was going to be the only gift we could give this little walking sunshine. They waited probably another hour longer for the ear molds to cure, tubed and then to see if hearing aids would work..... We all watched, prayed and hoped this would work. Others in our clinic filtered into the room to see. Would he hear, would he hear????
The aids were put on him, HE HEARD!!! We taught him to say "MA MA." He just kept saying "MA MA." With a smile that was bigger than any I had ever seen. His smile spread across to us all along with the tears streaming down our face.
This is why we went. (Who can I credit these wonderful memories?)
"When I am working the mission, I love meeting the elder woman. Their faces could tell stories of joys and hardships from years of living in a third world country. They appear so wise and interesting with their dark leather -like complexion and hard creases from the sun. Yet when they smile at me the creases soften and my heart melts." Diane Brown-King
Hi Eileen, Just want to say thanks to all. You are a GREAT TEAM . Mary Berthalot
What I'm always amazed and in awe of is the closeness of the families in Nicaragua. One of our interpreter's Mom brought in his Grandmother who was in a wheel chair. Our interpreter introduced me to his Mom and his sister who had brought up the prescription. When I then brought the glasses down to his Grandmother and the interpreter continued to introduce me to his entire family and seemed so very proud to do so. Down with Grandma was his Dad, his aunt, his brother & his cousins. They were all smiling and just seemed happy to be there together. Linda Carpentier
mission was the most memorable I ever had. I had the opportunity to work
with my wife Ana Adilia while we were on our honeymoon. It was a very
The week started out with high emotions. Our hard work getting medications transported to Nicaragua came in to jeopardy along with some barriers to getting care to the neediest people surrounding the school in Monimbo. However, in the true spirit of this creative and tenacious group of volunteers, we were able to serve a wide range of patients. Who can forget the gentleman brought in by Dave and Shahin who got, not only a wheelchair but dental work and medical care.... the ultimate "extreme makeover". I particularly remember a 13 year old girl suffering from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, not only was she having the similar issues that surround adolescence but was also dealing with severe pain. Another young man was being given a wheelchair after suffering severe brain damage from an assault with a baseball bat. I took out some crudely placed sutures, a reminder how difficult life can be in this country.
...On a lighter note, I'll never forget Jairo comparing the "typical" medical complaints of the many people coming through "Medico" as "La Macarena"..... dolor de cabeza, de cuello, los hombres, los brazos, mi espalda........ ehhhhh, macarena........ (I know you're all doing it right now.......) ...and how about the girl with the pet rooster..... Great week, great friends and coworkers.... thanks to our fearless leaders, Carl and Joe. Hasta luego. Sue Seidler
My memory is one of revived friendships with fellow voshers fun & frolicking in the farmacia especially in our aprons. One can hardly forget the MINSA raid & that almost crisis - new power can be so difficult for some to find a balance when proving themselves.
The image of the girl with her rooster is forever etched in my mind, not to forget the hand pecking I received when sharing a snack with the bird. (boy was I surprised as a city girl) I was so impressed with what audiology accomplished. Then there were the stories of mobility mini miracles an life altering interactions.
It was especially special for me to share the mission adventure with my husband, John and hear he now realized how the mission provides such a rewarding experience. It awakens feelings so powerful and satisfying within us. We receive so much more than we give during these connections to a part of our global society. Cheryl Kelley
waves, wind and spray across the bow
Thank you to all that contributed to this year’s mission report! I hope I did not inadvertently delete anyone’s contributions in my zest for editing!
We missed those folks that had been on previous missions but were not able to attend this year. Hope to see many and most of you at this summer’s Nicaraguan Reunion...........details to follow! Hasta luego! Eileen
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