Centro de Mujeres María Luisa Ortiz
Number 36 — November, 2005
Warmest greetings to each of you. Much has happened since I last wrote to you. “A DREAM DEFERRED” – I am reminded of Langston Hughes’ poem when I think of present day Nicaragua. Langston Hughes asked the question “where do the dreams go?” What has happened to the dreams and accomplishments of the Sandinista Revolution? Health care for all, previously landless peasants with their own land, education through graduate schools based on merit, not family income, enough food for all, communities and neighborhoods working together for safety, cleanliness and creating beauty. A time when it was easy to be good. I wish Peter Maurin could have lived to see Nicaragua of the 1980’s – he was working for a “world where it is easy to be good.” Today, Nicaragua has a President with almost no powers and who is accused of misappropriating campaign funds. The Sandinista Party is making deals with former president Arnoldo Alemán (convicted of embezzlement), in order to hold on to a few gains of the Revolution, causing good people to leave the Sandinista Party to form new groups, thus splintering the Left. Former U.S. Ambassador, Oliver Garza, has returned on a special mission: to unify the political right so the Sandinistas will not be able to gain the presidential election in 2006. Sandinista National Assembly members are the only ones holding back approval of DR-CAFTA, struggling to gain a few protections for Nicaraguan farmers and the environment. The devastating effects of NAFTA (the Free Trade Agreement of 1994 between the U.S. and Mexico) on Mexican farmers is well documented and is responsible for the ruin of millions of Mexican farmers, driving growing numbers of the desperately poor across the border without papers. Deaths in the deserts between Mexico and the southwest U.S. are growing to epidemic proportions.
Health Promoter Esperanza Gonzalez learning newborn resuscitation.
FUND-RAISING TOUR APRIL AND MAY This tour was the best and most exciting in recent years both in numbers of people attending presentations as well as donations received - a total of $64,054 covering a third of the clinic’s annual budget. Old friends and new hosted me from Seattle to Las Vegas, Galveston and Western Maine. Especially exciting were new groups in San Diego and Auburn, California. If I try to list all the wonderful hosts, I’m sure to leave someone out – so thank you to everyone. The most significant phenomenon is an awakening and renewed activism as more U.S. citizens are outraged by the direction the government has taken in war and threats of wars as well as the erosion of civil liberties. Everyone I spoke with agreed that this is a critical moment for U.S. civil society to organize and act if the country is to reclaim rationality and find the road to justice with peace.
DELEGATIONS – March - Dr. Greg Houston, from the University of Missouri Dental School, for the 7th year, brought faculty and students relieving dental pain and infection in dozens of people. In May, a group of young people from AMERICAN JEWISH WORLD SERVICE (AJWS) worked very hard under the punishing sun building terraces in the Medicinal Plant Garden. June – For the 11th year, Dr. Janice Smith brought a Medical/Dental/Student Delegation from Galveston, Texas.
COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS
– 28 men and women meet every six weeks with
the staff of ATENCION PRIMARIA DE SALUD led by Dr. Saul Contreras of
DOCTORS FOR GLOBAL HEALTH to continue increasing their knowledge of
Primary Health Care in their communities.
MORE and MORE GOOD NEWS – We are renovating a small house near the clinic which will house the VENTA SOCIAL DE MEDICAMENTOS – a low cost, not for profit pharmacy where most people we serve as well as patients from the Government Health Post will be able to afford prescribed medicines. It is estimated that 10 – 15% of our patients will have absolutely no money for purchases and these we will subsidize with a special fund. This wonderful opportunity is made possible by a consortium of not-for-profit clinics to which our clinic has been accepted for membership.
Dr. Connie Adler, Nurse Gloria Montenegro, and Health Promoter Esperanza Gonzalez learning newborn resuscitation.
WOMEN’S CENTER AND CLINIC REPORT
A little piece of the Dream is alive in Mulukuku. VISITORS – January - Doctors Janice Smith, Connie Adler and Mike Rowland visited. Mike installed an emergency lighting system for the Birthing/Treatment Room utilizing solar panels. Connie taught a course in Neo-natal Resuscitation and improved colposcopy and ultrasound skills of the staff. The physicians helped clinic staff evaluate needs and plan for the future. Lillian Jackman, from Massachusetts, nurse/gardener, taught acupressure to Health Promoters and shared knowledge with our agronomist, Doralisa Cordero, to improve the Medicinal Plant Garden. February - Susan Studebaker, Nurse Practitioner, completed work on a masters level Nutrition Study which will help us to respond to nutritional needs.
STAFF – Nurse, Gloria Montenegro, after working sometimes 12 hour days during the week and delivering babies at night with our doctor, Caridad Duarte, travels to Boaco for classes every Saturday and Sunday to add to her skills and obtain an R.N. degree. Gloria’s education is being funded by a group of nurses at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Maine. (Thanks to the impetus of Dr.Connie Adler!). Natali Montoya, Naturopath, is completing a degree in Clinical Psychology thanks to a grant from the Appleton Foundation and an anonymous donor. Natali also travels for classes in Matagalpa every weekend. Added to the staff is nurse Jacqueline Sandoval helping with pre-natal and family planning patients. Jacqueline is also improving her skills in the same R.N. program as Gloria.
Medical Public Health Students from University of Arizona and our staff identifying persons with tuberculosis.
GOOD NEWS – Through the efforts of Dr. Janice Smith and a generous donor, we will receive funds to build a CASA MATERNA, (where high risk pregnant women may await a safe birth) and a new BIRTHING ROOM. This is fantastic since the maternal death rate in the area is very high as are newborn deaths. More women will give birth with trained personnel and lives will surely be saved.
MORE GOOD NEWS – Through an agreement with the Swedish Family Medicine Residencies at Providence and First
Hill in Seattle, and with promise of expanding to include all Family Medicine Residencies in the University of Washington Medicine network, the clinic will eventually receive a third year resident every month. The physicians will spend 3 weeks of their time in the clinic and the last week in the communities working with Community Health Workers and the Tuberculosis Program.
Friends, our work is completely dependant on your good will. The women, children and men whom we serve are as your mothers, wives, fathers and children. We are joined together in one human community. When a tree is planted in Mulukuku it is planted for the planet. When a species is saved from extinction, it is saved for all of us.
2005 marks an anniversary for Dorothy. Fifteen years ago, she
invited by the Maria Luisa Ortiz Women’s Cooperative, in Mulukuku,
Nicaragua, to establish a women’s health clinic. Since then, because of
the clinic, and because of the incredible support from you and others,
countless women have survived to raise their children.
Over and over, readers of this newsletter, and other friends, have responded to the needs of the people in Mulukuku. During the nineties, as she became aware that Mulukuku patients had abnormally high rates of cervical cancer, Dorothy detailed the connection between cervical cancer, certain virus infections, poverty, and the lack of gynecological services for women in the area. People responded financially and the clinic launched a comprehensive screening program. With early detection and immediate treatment the clinic has erected a roadblock against cervical cancer.
The clinic also saw domestic violence impacting its patients.
Dorothy spoke to us through this newsletter about the context of the
violence and the family tragedies she witnessed. She shared the
clinic’s vision to create a campaign to teach women about alternatives
to violence and to provide a safe place to any woman who needed it.
Generous people in North America and Europe responded. The clinic now
has a model program to help women survive domestic violence, including
Gaza Bowen, internationally known artist, shoemaker, shoe
historian, lecturer, instructor, and martial artist died in May of this
year. She was 61.
In our natural medicine program we are working on an
integrated focus as much as possible. We focus on the illness as a
result of a disequilibrium between a person’s physical and emotional
health. We consider that both physical and emotional states cannot be
looked at as separate; they are intimately related and thus both have
the same importance.
We consider our history, at the regional, municipal, and
level, our culture, personal idiosyncrasies, and family origin as facts
that influence the course of an illness. Also, we look at the
development process in which each person may have had the
predisposition to suffer the illness.