Posts Tagged ‘nicaragua’

A Roll of the dice

February 12th, 2009

The geographic location of your childhood forms more than your etiquette, your habits, preferences, etc…, but  your entire health.  The influence of John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe and the other stars of Hollywood contributed to the reign of cigarettes as the number one cause of preventable death.  Human addictions are soon replaced.

Obesity and its family are now the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. Here in the United States we often cannot afford the continued attention of a doctor and the basic preventable care offered.   We are the only nation in the West to not have basic health care.  

In Nicaragua health services are free.  The depth of facilities, and trained staff, however, is very shallow.  Preventable medicine, while free, is not very efficacious.  Diabetes has risen 54% between 2000 and 20006 (Diabetes Voice 2007, vol 52 issue 4).

The government passes out informational leaflets and adults are rarely more than 30 minutes away from a free diabetes consultation.

If you were born in Nicaragua, and have been raised on the starch heavy foods that  folks survive on  (a major component of diabetes)  and have contracted diabetes, you would have to get that free consultation in Managua, the capital. While adults can go to a consultation in any city, children have to go to the children’s hospital in Managua.  One little girl had to travel 24 hours to get care (Diabetes Voice, ibid).  Folks can’t afford those travel expenses earning only $5 a day.

We all have different dice thrown.

Nicaraguan farmers

January 22nd, 2009
Don Ricardo with son and fruit trees

Don Ricardo with son and fruit trees

I went to visit Don Ricardo and his family in the mountains of Nicaragua.  We climbed the mountains in a 4×4 tortuously slow, crossing streams  and navigating huge divets  in the road.  When we finally arrived at the farm we presented Don Ricardo with a bottle of rum.  His wife made  juice for us: fresh squeezed orange juice, water and a little sugar…at Don Ricardo’s insistence we used the juice to chase the hefty shots of rum he poured us.

He then took us on a tour, viewing his coffee and citrus orchards, his dairy cows and his land.  A truck climbs up to his farm once a day to collect the milk he squeezes from his cows.  Sometimes in the rainy season when the roads give out he has to carry the milk to the bottom of the hill to meet the truck. He himself rarely goes to town.

After the Sandinista revolution many people carried guns, and during the presidency of Violetta Chamorra, those people with guns could not find jobs or food and so resorted to violence.  Don Ricardo was assualted my 30 or so men with rifles, tied up, and had all his chickens and food stolen from him.  He had a revolver, he tells us, but what to do against 30 men.  He shrugs and smiles.

The fruit trees that litter his farm he received from president Aleman, who came to power after Chamorra.  Aleman gave every farmer fruit trees and chicken wire to start an orchard.  Don Ricardo planted the trees and took pictures to send to Aleman to prove that he had used the gift productively.

His farm was immaculately clean, even with a dirt floor, and his hospitality was lovely: he invited us to stay for lunch and we had a typical Nicaraguan farm meal: scrambled eggs, fried salty cheese and tortillas with sweetened coffee from his farm.

It was beautiful, humbling and refreshing to see people with so little to be so thankful for life and so willing to share.