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Elective Rotation: Public Health and Spanish Language in Nicaragua

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Contact: Jennifer King

Location: San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Medical Care: The Centro de Salud in San Juan Del Sur is a very well-functioning regional health center with medical visits (“consultos”) each day as well as a small emergency room and low-risk deliveries. In order to work there you should contact “Teri” or Maria Teresa Vasquez the head nurse and manager there. She decides where people will work each day. In addition to the medical clinic, the Centro has 3 rural outpost clinics (puestos de salud) that are staffed by one doctor and one nurse. Teri can help set you up with these clinics as well. Finally, the Centro will sometimes send doctors and/or nurses further out to villages to do consultos or track down kids missing vaccines or pregnant women. I highly recommend this experience. Also check out Colleen Harrison’s summary, linked on the sister city project website below, which details the schedule at the clinic, contacts, paperwork to submit to Teresa and tips on medical supplies to bring. For formal guidelines, see attached form. Public Health: If you are interested in direct service to public health, Fundacion Tierra and the Newton Sister City Project have been working in SJDS for many years building latrines, stoves and biosand water filters and installing them in rural communities along with providing education on clean water and hygiene. The local employee, Antonia, is an amazing woman with a lot of knowledge and passion for her work. They often need money for supplies or transportation. If you’re interested, they can coordinate with the Centro to share the Centro’s truck and you can combine outreach activities. http://sanjuandelsursistercityproject.wordpress.com/volunteer/ The mayor of San Juan Del Sur is also a physician who has worked in the community for a long time. Her husband Che is also a good contact. They are friends of Francisco Trilla. Spanish Language: Many of the residents from Santa Rosa have taken classes at San Juan Del Sur Spanish School (http://www.sjdsspanish.com/). Veronica’s daughter, Jeny, also runs a new school at the restaurant Lago Azul. In general, make sure you attend all the classes you pay for because schools will often charge you for classes, then if you miss some, they will charge you but not pay the teachers. The same is true for homestays. Housing: You can arrange a home stay through one of the Spanish schools. Many residents have stayed with Mama Marta in her beautiful house with a view. You can reach Marta through her daughter’s email or by phone (Spanish only). Also David Gullette with Newton Sister City Project can help arrange a home stay. Donations: Contact David Gullette and Teresa Vasquez prior to your visit to see what is needed in the community. My Experience: I took 5 half days of Spanish classes and split the rest of the time between Fundacion Tierra and outreach with the Centro. I think the hardest thing was that a lot of outreach requires the whole day, which made combining with Spanish classes difficult. In addition, the schedule is often not set very far in advance so it can be difficult to plan. I highly recommend getting a local cell phone to coordinate with people if you are trying to work with more than one group. In addition, many people do not respond to email right away, so try multiple times, or even better call. Everyone listed above except for David Gullette is Spanish only for communication. *Note: Please contact me or the elective coordinator for specific emails and phone numbers I do not want to post directly to the website.

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Similar great experience in San Juan del Sur

From: Karl Greer

Following in the tradition of several other SR residents I traveled to San Juan del Sur for spanish immersion as well as work with the local public health system. I went for 2 weeks in July 2013 along with my family. I took spanish classes at Lago Azul Spanish School with Rosa Torres, who was an excellent teacher. The rest of the time was spent working with Fundacion Tierra, described above. They are always in need of peoplepower and finances. Antonia is the local contact and David Gullette is stateside mostly and very helpful in arranging a trip, including low cost housing. I did not work at the Centro de Salud as their application process is somewhat onerous and is facilitated with a medical license, which I didn't have then. Also, Teresa, who was the contact before had just quit and the clinic was in flux. However, I did connect with another great clinic there Servicios Medicos Communales. It was started by a Belgian doctor and provides free or very low cost primary care to the local community. There is a small lab and one exam room. A new doctor had just started, Elton Aguirre Mora, who is a pediatric surgeon trained in Nicaragua. He was from the area and wanted to return to the quiet life and give something back to the community. The clinic also houses a battered women's shelter. David Gullette with Sister City's Project recommended the clinic to me and can put you in contact with them. Good stuff about all these opportunities here: http://sanjuandelsursistercityproject.wordpress.com/Volunteer/ San Juan is also a fun town with lots of recreational opportunities. Has some of the best surf in Central America. My family had a great time there. It was fairly easy to get around without renting a car. Housing is plentiful and inexpensive for home stays.