Promotoras - March-November 2012
The promotoras program gathered force throughout the year, with lots of help from local and international volunteers. The dedicated group of local women began their training in March, led by Dr. Carlos and the ever-inspirational Yamileth and Griselda. The women began accompanying their leaders on home visits immediately, gathering confidence in their caretaking skills. May Health month provided the perfect opportunity for the group to begin sharing their new knowledge with the community, in the form of short health workshops delivered to clinic patients in the Casa de Salud waiting room. University of Michigan students supported activities in May, bonding with the women and performing community work in solidarity, while also delivering a few workshops of their own. The Delaware County Community College nurses continued their participation in this project for a fourth year, having piloted the very first group years ago. They led a special training session on diabetes management, which included teaching the women how to give insulin shots and test blood sugar levels.
As Nutritional Cooking and Music Therapy (Dance) classes got underway, the Tufts volunteers joined the team, providing health-related context to the classes in the form of short units on topics such as hydration, portion size, and ideal weight. Tufts students also led trainings for the promotoras group in topics such as mental health and meditation, developed data-collecting systems to track program results, and processed data from Health Month to inform future programming decisions. Dr. Carlos, Yamileth, and Griselda continue to oversee the home visits programs, lead weekly training sessions for the promotoras cohort, supervise the "healthy classes," organize the New Mothers and Addicts & Their Families, and also offer community-wide health workshops whenever possible.
Volunteer-led English and Health Classes@ HD - May-August 2012
In our effort to best utilize volunteer talent, we focused 2012 in-class volunteer time at Escuela HD towards reinforcing English and Health curriculums. Sofia Serrano, ATRAVES's Community Development Coordinator, serves as HD Principal and English teacher in her AM role. She and Volunteer Coordinator, Corey, helped volunteers develop lesson plans that fit students' level and built on previous learning. In May, University of Michigan volunteers led a three-week English unit featuring personal information (address, telephone number, spelling of name), jobs, and daily activities for fifth and sixth graders. Fellow delegates offered English reinforcement and homework help for EHD graduates. Volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sharon Youth group reinforced the 5th/6th grade personal information unit in June, practicing sequences with students, while another group worked with the 3rd and 4th grade classes on telling time.
Throughout June and July, our three MD/MPH volunteers from Tufts University School of Medicine developed and delivered an 11-session general health and sex education curriculum for the EHD 5th and 6th graders. Their class included diagnostic assessments, video supplements, and a slew of creative and hands-on activities. The curriculum has been translated for future use by national educators and future volunteers. In fact, following the Tufts students departure in August, Nourish International volunteers modified the general health portion of the curriculum and delivered it to the 3rd and 4th grade classes.
Health Month (Mich & Nurses) - May 2012
Never letting us down, our reliable combo of the University of Michigan delegation and the Delaware County Community College nurses delivered back-to-back health projects for yet another year. The 13 UMich volunteers took turns staffing our clinic for a full three weeks of operation. Their work and the generous donation raised by the whole UMich ATRAVES team helped provide check-ups - both general and with an OB-GYN—medication and exams to 536 patients (66% female, 42% aged 12 and under). In June, the DCCC nurses and a translator/helper public health undergraduate from Johns Hopkins University performed 234 school physicals for Escuela HD students. This important annual project helps the school identify health issues and track changes.
Having access to a yearly physical is a rare privilege in Nicaragua, much more so being attended by familiar doctors, in a neighborhood clinic, where some patients now have records going back to 2007 and all consults come with free medicine, necessary diagnostic exams, and external referrals. Add to that longer patient-doctor interactions, a clean, un-crowded facility, community-led health education talks in the waiting room, smiling clinic staff, and a local reputation for treating patients kindly, and we are proud to say the Casa de Salud is blossoming into the quality community health center we always knew it could be. What lies ahead is stretching Health Month into Health Year!
Septic Tank - April 2012
Thanks to generous donations from the Senghas family and some Providence supporters, including the rad What Cheer? Brigade who held a benefit concert in late March, the Casa de Salud now has a functional bathroom. Dons Fran and William and their ragtag team of young apprentices spent a few hot weeks in March and April digging the pit, mixing and pouring concrete, laying blocks, setting pipes, and finally sealing off the septic tank. They then completed work on the bathroom, with help from funds left over from the August 2011 tiling project, and voila! We were ready for May Health month! Now patients wait for their appointments in comfort, clinic staff wash their hands with running water, our caretaker doesn’t have to leave the clinic unattended at night, volunteers and ATRAVES staff make that trek up to the school a little less frequently, and bathroom traffic at the HD has become far more manageable. What a difference a toilet makes.
The 2012 Volunteer Program Guide is here! Join an August trip to Nicaragua. - Mar, 2012
We're excited to bring you the brand new 2012 Volunteer Program Guide. Have a look at all the exciting ways to volunteer in Nicaragua with ATRAVES. We're now enrolling participants for an education-focused delegation called "Creativity in the Classroom," August 4-19, and a Health Services trip for health professionals as well as non-professionals, August 18-26. Please join us!
Adult Ed Classes - March-Oct 2012
Our adult education program continues in 2012, offering Sewing, Handicrafts, and Cosmetology. Adults (mostly women) attend weekly three-hour long classes taught by skilled educators, and also benefit from short units led by Sofia, on broader topics such as self-esteem, leadership, basic accounting, and sales techniques. These same topics are also imparted weekly to the two sections of the San Juan de Oriente artisan's cooperative. Members from the Handicrafts class have been able to immediately turn their new skills into profits, selling home decorations and handmade jewelry locally. The Sewing class, on the other hand, must invest more time in learning detailed skills such as how to take measurements, make patterns, stitch by hand and using the machine, and manipulate different types of fabric. By the end of the year, they will be able to make quality items such as skirts, bags, and shirts for their families and to sell in local markets. Cosmetology students practice what they learn on neighbors and family members, charging for haircuts and manicures as their skills develop. Other positive results from these classes include increased self-esteem, notable changes in personal hygiene among the women and their families, and positive opportunities for female bonding - all crucial in a neighborhood suffering from high levels of domestic violence.
New Year, New Faces, New Goals - Jan 2012
The opening activities of 2012 have included a staff restructuring, the hiring of 5 new staff members, and a productive strategic planning session. Sofia Serrano has transitioned from her role as overall Project Coordinator to become, more specifically, the Community Development Coordinator. Lara Jackson is now the Director of Administration and Operations, as Corey Blant (former UMichigan EBoard member and long-time volunteer) comes on board as the new Volunteer & Kid’s Club Coordinator. New to the team are Katia Granja as the Administrative Assistant, Dr. Carlos Romero as the Health Coordinator, and community members Yamileth Hernández and Griselda Rodriguez as the part-time Promotoras Project Assistants.
The strategic planning process helped the new team gel, and resulted in some exciting new goals for our programs. This year our Education program will be focused on formalizing and improving our after-school Kid’s Club and continuing to develop the HD curriculums for English and Health classes. Health Programming will focus on successful completion of goals outlined in the Weyerhaeuser grant, scaling up the availability of free medical consultations at the Casa Salud, and continuing to chip away at remaining construction. Community Development Programming will see the continuation of adult education classes and collaboration with the San Juan de Oriente artisans cooperative, along with the introduction of a pilot project, the Lauren Wilkinson Memorial Project, which will be an urban agriculture initiative in Barrio William Galeano.
Weyerhaueser Grant - Dec 2011
The year 2011 ended on a positive note for ATRAVES with news of a $26,270 grant from the Weyerhaueser Family Foundation to fully fund our 'promotoras' or community health leaders program for 2012. The grant allows us to hire our first Health Coordinator and two part-time assistants, who will recruit and train a cohort of 12 community health leaders to support our home visits program, wherein the promotoras attend to fellow community members facing issues with chronic disease management, old age, isolation, mental illness, recovery from medical procedures, and more. Additional funds are allocated for the development of health education initiatives such as workshops and guest lectures for the community, support groups, and the addition of 'healthy classes' to our adult education program. This is the first major grant that ATRAVES has received and we are extremely grateful to the Weyerhaueser Family Foundation, our hard-working staff, and the original community promotoras. Special shout-outs to volunteers Pam Santarlasci, Elaine Hossler, Hilary Robbins, and Michela Garrison.
Adios Fer - Sept 2011
ATRAVES bid a bittersweet farewell to long-time staff member, Logistics Coordinator and Gestor Extraordinaire, Fernando Sobalvarro Cruz. Fernando began working with ATRAVES in 2006 as a volunteer, and continued to donate his time until he became an official staff member in 2007. Fernando's vast network of contacts in Managua, his incredible negotiating skills, and his dedication to ATRAVES, Escuela HD, and the Camilo Ortega community, were invaluable over the years. Fernando finished his law degree in 2011, and left to explore opportunities related to his area of study. Everyone involved with ATRAVES will miss having Fernanado's suave humor and caring nature around 24/7, but he'll still be stopping by in his role as an ATRAVES Nicaragua board member and Escuela HD supporter, and we know he'll do great things in his new field.
Belleza y Manualidades -Feb-Oct 2011
A project of ATRAVES Nicaragua this year, headed up by the illustrious Sofia Serrano, has been our new adult education program, which started with the 2011 offerings of Belleza (Beauty) and Manualidades (Handicrafts) classes. Over the 8-month long course, Belleza students learned how to cut and style hair, do manicures and pedicures, had group discussions about style and personal hygiene, and reflected on ways to battle the low self-esteem epidemic among women in Barrio Camilo Ortega. The Manualidades students learned how to make handbags from yarn, beach bags from "gimp," party decorations from crepe paper, gift bags from recycled materials and items found in nature, centerpieces from cloth, beaded jewelry, leather key chains, newspaper pinatas, and more. The stuents hope to be able to sell their goods at local markEducation Monthon is coming up, and ATRAVES will be offer o new courses beginning next February.
Education Month -August, 2011
Though we did not have an education-specific delegation this August, ATRAVES was able to offer a second Professional Development Conference for Nicaraguan teachers in the ATRAVES network, thanks to a generous donation made in memory of former volunteer, David Mansbach, by his high school friends. David, who first worked with Leticia years ago in San Juan del Sur, was a scientist by profession and had a passion for education projects. In his honor, this year's conference focused on how to teach science in the classroom. Teachers from EHD, Tipitapa, San Juan de Oriente, and Catarina participated. Sessions were led by ATRAVES Nicaragua board member Prof. Julio Lopez, UENIC Prof. Alfonso Serrano, ATRAVES US board member Prof. Andrew Frishman, and volunteer Prof. Gijon. Gijon, a high school science teacher from the New York City public schools and a friend of David's, volunteered for an additional two weeks at EHD, reinforcing methodologies discussed in the conference and introducing new ones.
Tiling Project -August, 2011
ATRAVES' new fundraising champion, Brandon, returned this year after participating in last year's UMichigan delegation with three new friends. The four volunteers came ready and willing to do whatever dirty project ATRAVES deemed most necessary at the time, which happened to be the clinic tiling project. The four raised all of the money needed to complete this task and then came down to lay the tile by hand, square by square, in the heat and humidity of a Managuan August. The project was completed on time, with some money left-over for small projects needed to protect the clinic from the second part of the rainy season. The clinic is ever so much more bright and clean with the new tiles, and ATRAVES is very grateful to Brandon, Andrew, Julie, and Lauren for taking on this sweaty project for the benefit of all volunteers and patients to come! Special shout out to Dons William and Fran who have seen the whole Casa de Salud construction project through from the very beginning and are the best teachers, security guards, foreman/assistant team, and caballeros ATRAVES could ever ask for.
Michigan State University -July, 2011
For the second year in a row, rising 2nd year med students from Michigan State University came to do some learning and service work with our health program here in Managua. This year it was Lyndsay and Ashley, an all-star volunteer who has been active with ATRAVES through the UMich group for years. Lyndsay and Ashley participated in all aspects of our health program, including providing a few days of free consults and medicine, working with the promotoras in their workshops and home visits, assessing date from Health Month and the school physicals, and adding another layer of paint to the clinic walls. Ashley and Lyndsay worked with our most active Nicaraguan medical contact, Dr. Alberto Pomares, who was able to host them at the Bertha Calderon Women's Hospital in Managua where they observed several births!
Community Health Leaders -June, 2011
The Community Health Lay Leaders group or "las promotoras" was revitalized starting in June of this year. Elaine and super-volunteer Michaela led two weeks of hands-on training sessions for new groups of women, graduating 8 new individuals from the program. After Elaine left, Michaela continued to work diligently to get the group organized, using materials from the Hesperian Foundation and donated laptops to help the women learn how to educate themselves on various health-related topics. Her project has been a huge success and as of September, the women are still making weekly home visits to sick and elderly patients, communicating needs to ATRAVES staff, collaborating with Nicaraguan volunteers doctor Alberto and nurse Silvia who serve as group advisors, running clean-up campaigns, leading health workshops to share their knowledge with other adults in the community, and teaching Health class to students in EHD. Michaela, a rising junior at Vassar College, was able to bring us a small grant to help with this project in 2011 and ATRAVES is actively seeking funding to continue this project as a main component of our Casa de Salud program.
Health Month -June, 2011
With a freshly painted, stocked, and organized Casa de Salud, we were ready to welcome a new volunteer delegation from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Over their 2½ week service project, 12 rising second-year med students continued clinic services, assisting with free consults, exams, and medicine to 600 additional patients and follow-ups to many of those who had come through in May. Their trip coincided nicely with our yearly visit from Delaware Community College, represented by nursing professor Elaine, MSN. Elaine worked with the Creighton volunteers to complete this year's school physicals and she and volunteer Dr. McMillan also brought the medical students on home visits to some of the less mobile patients. Volunteers spent time with the EHD kids as well, teaching health-related English vocab and running an after-school Kid's Club with a physical fitness focus. All in all, it was a very successful first-time collaboration that we hope will be repeated for years to come. After the group departed, we had a last minute surprise when for the first time ever we hosted a volunteer dentist. Dr. Ethan and his partner spent their hard-earned vacation time providing much-needed basic dental care to around 200 EHD students. The pair donated all materials used, and partnered with Nicaraguan dentist Dr. Patricia, who loaned her chair to the clinic for the two weeks of work.
ATRAVES at the University of Michigan -May, 2011
Our fifth delegation of students from the University of Michigan took part in a multitude of projects, all of which they carried out successfully and cheerfully. The group had a record year of fundraising, bringing in a large donation that allowed ATRAVES to continue interior construction on the Casa de Salud. Prior to the delegation's arrival, we leveled the concrete floor, completed finishing work on the interior and exterior cement walls, installed the majority of the gypsum walls, and purchased some needed furniture and equipment. When the 15 volunteers arrived they spent a week and half painting the walls and beams, cleaning, and setting up the clinic for its first brigade. When all was ready, we opened for a week and a half of service, during which volunteers and Nicaraguan medical staff provided about 250 patients with free consults, medicine, and exams. Volunteers also provided support for three professionally run health workshops, prepared and led two health workshops of their own, led English classes for the 4th/5th/6th graders at EHD, tutored EHD graduates in English and Computation, and led an after-school Kid's Club that focused on music, dance, and health education. For the first time ever, ATRAVES partnered with the local nursery school, where they worked with other community leaders on a fence building project.
Primary Education in Catarina -Feb-April 2011
Volunteer Angelica spent last spring practicing her classroom management Spanish vocabulary at the public primary school in Catarina (department of Masaya) before heading back to school for her Master's in Education at Teacher's College. Over the course of two months, she taught basic Computers and English to 5th and 6th graders. The school administration would love to have more qualified volunteers come down to pick up where she left off at any time during the 2012 school year (Feb-Nov). If you know anyone interested in teaching who might be interested in living near the beautiful Laguna de Apoyo for a few months, please have them send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Health Assessment -January-June, 2011
Long-term individual volunteer Hilary undertook the daunting task of reassessing the current health situation in Barrio William Galeano over the course of several months this year, revamping the 2007 Community Health Assessment survey to help us gather additional information from the community regarding their needs and desires for the new Casa de Salud. Hilary also helped us search for grants, write initial grant requests, and manage the clinic during the May Health Month. Hilary is currently pursuing her Master's in Public Health at John Hopkins University and we expect her to be a valuable resource for the clinic for years to come.
First Official Newsletter - December, 2010
ATRAVES is excited to publish our first official newsletter. Download it here for news, photographs and perspectives on our work.
Disaster Relief in Bo. William Galeano - September, 2010
In late August, tragedy struck the Managua neighborhood where ATRAVES works, when a family of three was killed by a landslide caused by a heavy rainy season hitting the steep hill where most of the community resides. 250 people were evacuated, and have been sheltered in a nearby abandoned school. ATRAVES organized a disaster relief campaign. The response from returned volunteers and other friends was extraordinary. We had exceeded our fundraising goal within 48 hours of calling for support, and were able to adapt our efforts to the evolving needs of the community. This has included food aid, medical services, child-care, hygiene and cleaning products, coordination and logistics support, and social and educational services. The refugees’ future is still uncertain, and we continue to accompany and support them.
Health Month and Nurses' Group - May-June, 2010
Our third annual May Health Month was a great success thanks to the volunteers from ATRAVES at the University of Michigan, Drs. Veronica, Alberto and Adalberto, the generosity of Escuela H.D. staff, and the tireless community volunteers from Camilo Ortega/William Galeano. We offered three weeks of free clinical service, saw 630 patients, gave 312 free lab tests, and provided free medication to those who needed it. We also offered 7 health education workshops to community members, English and curriculum reinforcement in classes at EHD, and after-school programming to local children. After the month-long participation of the U of M volunteers, we hosted two professors of nursing, Pam Santarlasci and Elaine Hossler of Delaware County Community College. These two provided follow-up care to patients we saw in May, home visits to patients with mobility issues, and an exciting training program in first aid and other health skills to residents of the neighborhood. Congratulations to the 7 women who completed this training program!
Welcome Lara Jackson! - July, 2010
Lara Jackson volunteered with ATRAVES from April to June of 2010, and was soon playing a key role in helping us organize Health Month. Experienced manager, food service guru, "logistical genius," and contender for solidarity heavyweight champion, ATRAVES welcomes her as Volunteer Coordinator. "It's Lara Jackson time."
"We made things" - June, 2010
Volunteers-extraordinaire Katrina Grigg-Saito and Jonah Goldstein worked with artisans and children in San Juan de Oriente in May and June of this year. Their projects included English education, web development, computer skills education and a variety of other support for artisans work and trade. They worked with children in the community to create the website www.wemadethings.org/artesanos-de-sjo/, which showcases artisans creations, stories and photographs. We hope that this website will be an effective tool in helping expand San Juan de Orientes reach in the fair trade market. It is a beautiful representation of the craft and the people who practice it. For more stories and crafts from SJdO, you can also see Katrinas website www.beinginlovethere.com.
Unitarian Church of Sharon Youth Delegation - February, 2010
ATRAVES worked with 8 youth and 3 adults from the Unitarian Church of Sharon, Massachusetts on an educational volunteer delegation this February. The volunteers taught English and organized after-school enrichment activities at Escuela H.D. in Managua, and worked with children in San Juan de Oriente and Catarina. ATRAVES thanks the UCS congregation for its financial and moral support of the youth group, and thanks the participants for their remarkable work and enthusiasm. We hope to repeat this experience in the near future!
Casa de Salud
ATRAVES is excited to welcome Engineers Without Borders Cal Poly on their return trip in August-September to complete the building shell of the Casa de Salud William Galeano! We are currently seeking funding to support clinical, health education and health leadership programming in the new facility.
Casa de Salud William Galeano - Sep, 2009
The first phase of construction on the Casa de Salud project begins in September, with Engineers Without Borders Cal Poly San Luis Obispo building the retaining wall and foundation. We are seeking grants to complete construction in early 2010, and for clinical, educational and leadership development programs in this facility.
Earthwork for the Casa de Salud - Aug, 2009
ATRAVES broke ground on the site of the Casa de Salud in Barrio Camilo Ortega/William Galeano in early August. The earthwork is a massive undertaking with manual tools, and many community members have volunteered to help, as have three volunteers from California.
First Annual Board Retreat - Jul, 2009
For the first time ever, the boards and staff of ATRAVES came together for a strategic planning retreat in late July. We established deeper working relationships and bonds of solidaridad, created new priorities for our development and growth as an organization, and began the process of charting a plan for the future of our programs.
Health Month - May, 2009
With the tireless support of 24 volunteers from ATRAVES at the University of Michigan, many dedicated community volunteers, additional international volunteers, and the remarkable doctors Veronica Espinoza and Adalberto Davila, ATRAVES attended to more than a thousand patients in Camilo Ortega with free care, medicine and exams. Dozens participated in health workshops, and educational activities at Escuela H.D.
ATRAVES at the University of Michigan - Oct 10, 2008
Students at the University of Michigan who volunteered with Pangea in Camilo Ortega in May of 2008 found the first ATRAVES chapter organization. After a competitive application process, the 8-member organizing committee has accepted 21 people to the group, which is planning a delegation trip in May. ATRAVES welcomes our new volunteers!
Engineers Without Borders Returns to Plan Health Center - Sep 14, 2008
The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo chapter of Engineers Without Borders returns to Camilo Ortega, taking measurements and conducting community meetings to work towards the goal of building the facility for an ATRAVES Casa de Salud in the Managua neighborhood.
Health Month in Nicaragua - May 1, 2008
Pangea World Service Team, an 18-member student group from the University of Michigan, 5 US medical personnel, 2 supervising Nicaraguan doctors, and 4 other individual volunteers undertake May Health Month in Barrio Camilo Ortega. ATRAVES provided medical attention to nearly 600 community members, a screening of the students at Escuela H.D., health workshops for community members, and a Kids' Club for children in the area. Read the report »
Engineers Without Border Conducts Needs Assessment - Apr 20, 2008
Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a non-profit humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide, conducts a needs assessment in Barrio Camilo Ortega to begin designing a project to support community health and development.