Thursday, January 8, 2009

PGL projects and health, crazy day 3 Jan. 5

Today we started with a 4 1/2 hour tour of historic and modern León. We visited the indigenous section of León and various cathedrals. Later we went to a prison (carcel) that was used during the revolutionary times by the National Guard (guardia nacional) and later converted into a folklore museum. We had some freshly-squeezed juices for a treat, and then toured one of the largest maximum security prisons used during the revolution. It is a bittersweet experience on two levels. Here stands a prison which incarcerated thousands of people over political-ideological disputes; on one side, you have one of the prettiest views of León and on the other side, stands the regions only landfill. The multi colored garbage blankets several acres of land, and litter is scattered everywhere, including the road that leads to the prison. Buzzards and bugs are everywhere and several local extremely poor people scavenged the dump for food and supplies.

After lunch we met with PGL coordinator Felice and began to learn about the PGL projects developing in León. We then talked with a Nicaraguan doctor, Dr. Lau, who took us to the only public hospital in León. We visited each floor: ER, OB/GYN, Radiology, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Maternity, et al. We were alarmed by the lack of basic medical supplies: gloves, alcohol, sheets, beds, mattresses, and what we would consider as necessary equipment for a functioning hospital: functioning x-ray equipment, beds (las camas) for delivery, wheelchairs, etc. We learned from the doctors that often they don´t have medicines to give out or even regulators to help people receive oxygen. Or enough incubators to warm babies post delivery.

We processed this experience afterwards with some current Nicaraguan medical students (estudiantes) around our ages--one recently graduated from medical school at age 22! They shared some of the experiences from a students perspective as they have trained to become doctors. Since many students in this delegation are interested in applying to medical school, our group realized the large amount of dedication one must have to complete medical training in the US and in Nicaragua.

We wrapped up our day up by returning to our host families for dinner. Tomorrow we are excited to head to another PGL supported community (la comunidad), Santa Rosa, very early in the morning! Hasta pronto!

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