It is ten years since Kate and I visited Nicaragua for the first time, and while a lot has changed in the country in that time, the organisations that the Mayagna Children’s Fund helps are still doing sterling work with some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in Central America.
Once again we’ve been out to Nicaragua to see the organisations in their day to day life. Once again we’d like to thank you for your generous support which helps to keep them going and makes some of their projects possible. Some of the money we hand over has no defined end in mind, it goes to help pay for routine necessities such as food and transport. Some of the money is earmarked for staffing, and is part of the help that the fund gives over the course of the year.
The afternoon we arrived in León we went to see Maria at the Barrilete centre because Kate had encountered a problem transferring funds for Maria’s ‘mama sustituta’, the lady who stays the night to take charge of the 15 resident girls and boys. Fabien, the baby we met the last time is now three, his brother five, and both are looking happy. The dormitory is a bit spartan, but it is home. We met the mama sustituta and the educador that we have been funding as well as some of the children who come for day care. It is clear that although Maria receives money from other sources as well as us, it is all a bit piecemeal, and a bit hand to mouth. The regular money from the Mayagna Fund for the staff is a real boon, as is some extra money for daily necessities. Later in our stay we went back with sheets and towels, as well as knickers for the resident children.
Two days later we met Gustavo Herdocia in his clinic at the hospital and had the chance to sit in on a couple of his consultations as well as have a more general tour of the children’s facilities at the hospital. Gustavo works with babies and infants with harelips and cleft palates as well as putting right malformed limbs. No computer records in his clinic, indeed no computer in this simple little consulting room, but everything is detailed in exercise books with a wonderful personal approach and a gift of a transformed life at the end of it all. He regularly packs up his car with the makings of a field operating theatre to take his skills to kids and sometimes adults in remoter parts of the country. The money we give him helps all these families to get to the hospital in León or medical centres elsewhere and stay for the duration of the treatment. Each operation costs a little over ten dollars.
Our visit to Los Quinchos was a bit subdued compared with last time, which had been a fiesta day. It was also only a few weeks since the sudden death of Carlos Vidal, one of the child psychologists for the organisation. He was a great part of the children’s lives, and a great help to us in all our visits to Los Quinchos over the years. One of the ex Quinchos who now looks after the boys at the finca took us round however, and as ever it was a very affirmative experience – the girls and boys we saw on our first visit are growing up, and able to talk clearly and positively about their lives and futures. Their number doesn’t diminish – child poverty and abandonment remain high in Nicaragua, despite many improvements in the infrastructure of the country – and we saw more new faces. It was school holiday when we were visiting, and the youngsters were doing routine jobs, sweeping and washing clothes, having lunch. It was nice to see them being ordinary kids, happy with their lives and with their great Quinchos family. Kate was travelling with a large bag of donated football kits to which we added basics like knickers and toothbrushes, but also a load of hair gel (boys!) and nail varnish for the girls, so we took a car there and back as it is an awkward journey by bus. We gave money for routine necessities and are currently funding a nurse there, as well as first aid kits in all of the Los Quinchos centres. We have been funding an educador and hope to be able to continue.
Mamalicha was as inspirational as ever! Well into her seventies she still gives antenatal classes, and carried out 1200 Pap smears in 2015. Perhaps the biggest boost of all is that her work on natural childbirth has carried over into hospital practice now and she rarely now delivers babies herself! The money we gave her will help her continue with the Pap smears and classes as well as helping out with layettes for first time mums who don’t have anything for their babies. We took her some donated baby clothes and she showed us the notebooks where every layette and visit is meticulously noted.
Julio Moreno and his Muralistas still do promotional murals in the health centres as well as restoring some of the historical murals in Estelí, and now he runs big art classes for children too, so the money we gave him will help keep up the paint supplies as well as help some poorer kids get to the class. On our first visit to Estelí Kate and I met a young shoeshine boy, who drew a picture of me in my sketch book after I drew him. He drew like an infant, and what was heartwarming this time was to see Julio and some helpers with lots of kids in the Parque Central – all busily painting and having a lovely colourful time in a glorious little art fiesta!
Back in León we met up with the women from Cecamo, who support women who are victims of domestic violence. Nicaraguan society is on the whole very macho and Cecamo does a difficult job in difficult circumstances. They give advice, legal information and support, emotional support and a place to stay which is secure. The Cecamo women are unpaid volunteers, and they train up some of the women they help to go into the community to communicate with other victims. This centre is one of only five in the country, and the money we give will help them to continue their work.
Our big disappointment this visit was that we didn’t manage to make direct contact with anyone from Aspanicasole, which supports the families of kids with cancer. We have now managed to make mail contact, but any financial help will have to be for next time, as we do feel we need to make the contact directly and speak with the people managing the money.
The money that was set aside for them went instead to the Barrilete as a first payment for a cook. This is a new and particular project that Maria asked for help with, and we will tell you more about it in a further mailing.
We gave a total of $6223 in cash on this visit, and we are continuing to make regular staged payments from the fund bank account for various employees – nurse, educadores, mama sustituta. Some of the cash payments have been increased since the last visit, which is all due to your help and generosity.
Thank-you all very very much indeed.