Eight-year-old Brenda Espinoza was failing her classes at school simply because two rotting teeth caused her so much pain that she was unable to concentrate. Twelve-year-old Elimoises Martinez had a parasitic infection that caused him to miss so much school he lost his spot in the class and it was given to another student.
With teeth rotted well into her gum line, Brenda Espinoza was in severe pain. She had no means of getting medical attention or hope that the pain, which was derailing her efforts in school, would come to an end.
In mid-November, International Samaritan was very pleased to be able to provide medical and dental care to children like Brenda and Elimoises as well as 1,272 residents in two communities near the garbage dumps in Nicaragua. Seventeen volunteers joined our Medical and Dental Mission, including four doctors, two dentists, two nurses and a pharmacist.
The volunteers began their service at the Jose Artigas School in Ciudad Sandino. They treated 353 children there with problems ranging from intestinal worms to upper respiratory infections and rotting teeth. The next day, they moved onto the nearby garbage dump community where they treated another 360 patients, mainly mothers and infants. “It was heartbreaking to see such simple health issues causing them so much pain”, exclaimed Darren Chase, International Service Coordinator, “For many it was their first time seeing a doctor in their life, so it was great to see them finally receiving the care they needed”.
Brenda’s teacher brought her to visit our dental clinic when we arrived in Ciudad Sandino, and volunteers were able to remove the teeth that caused her so much pain. “I think I will be able to concentrate in school now,” says Brenda through her cotton-stuffed mouth.
For the next two days of service, the volunteer brigade traveled to Managua. On the first day there, they treated patients at a disability clinic. The clinic is an important part of the community, helping those with disabilities find employment when they are able.
They were able to treat over 250 patients, many of whom were victims of the civil war there. The following day brought extreme heat and large crowds of people waiting for care. Despite the difficulties, the team gave their all and worked hard to see over 300 more patients that day.
Elimoises came to the clinic in Managua on the last day and our volunteers treated his infection. Elimoises hopes to return to school very soon and his mother believes he will be able to get his spot back, “He really is a smart boy, we are hoping now with his infection gone, he won’t miss any more school.”
The most common problems seen throughout the trip were stomach pain, bloating, nausea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms caused by parasites. Many of the medical complaints of the garbage dump community residents are easily solved with proper medical care, and restoring their health allows them to work or attend school again free of pain or illness.
Our volunteers also treated many adults, including 30-year-old Mir Mercado Cordoba. Twelve years ago, Mir was shot during a convenience store gang fight. The bullet destroyed both of his eyes. Then last year, he lost his legs to bone infections. He came to the clinic because he was suffering from a bladder infection. Doctors were able to prescribe antibiotics that will cure the infection, ease his discomfort, and prevent further problems. Mir is studying English and plans to teach English to students at a local school for the blind. He is also taking an art class where he is learning to make and sell baskets to fund his dream of becoming a teacher.
Thank you to volunteers and everyone else who made this important trip possible.We look forward to sponsoring similar trips in the future. For information about how you can participate or donate money for desperately needed medicines, contact the International Samaritan office at (734) 222-0701.