By Nancy Klos
There is so much to share since our last newsletter! Much has transpired, including a very successful brigade to Jinotega from June 22 till the June 30. It’s hard to keep up with all that is going on with all the students, the staff persons, the Nicaraguan community partners, and the countless volunteer participants. Here are some highlights….
A few weeks prior to the departure of the June brigade, we added another member to our team, Gabriela Gonzalez. Due to the growth of MMO, Gabriela was hired to be our first MMO Office Administrator.Gabriela was born in Mexico, moved to California in her teens and has recently located permanently to Oklahoma to be near her family. Gabriela works part time in our downtown OKC office. She is a free lance journalist and psychology student at OSU when not wearing her MMO hat. A very busy lady, she was still able to join us on our June trip and learn first hand about all of our operations in Nicaragua. We are so pleased to have Gabriela on our team and she is already proving to be a tremendous asset.
Upon arrival to Jinotega on Saturday, June 22, the brigade was met by the new Nicaragua Operations Manager, Monica Falk, whose first day of work was just a few days before we arrived! As you can imagine, when the brigade is in town, we create quite a disruption to the normal regimen of the Albergue. As a result, it was not easy for Monica to “settle in” to her new home and job, but it was clear, she was up to the challenge as she hit the ground running with much enthusiasm and energy. Monica moved in June to Nicaragua from San Diego and is fluent in Spanish as she was born in Argentina and moved to the States as a young child. In the short time we were there, it became clear Monica loves to interact with the students and she will pick up sign language very quickly! Jade Gagnon, the previous manager, resigned in May to begin graduate school to become a speech therapist, a new career inspired by her experience at the Albergue.
Participating with the June brigade were youth students from Mayflower Church, a high school student from California, and 2 deaf Putnam City high schools students, along with their teacher, who is deaf. The establishment of cross-cultural relationships was a spiritually uplifting experience to witness and a positive testimony to the openness of this young generation. Mid week, the U.S. students invited the Nicaraguan students to a pizza party at a local pizza “joint”. Our large group took over the place and may have depleted their entire stock of soda pop. It was a joyful evening.
And, on the topic of painting..Lynn Barnett had the kids help her create a new mural in the courtyard of the Albergue. Thank you, Lynn!!It was not all fun and pizza for the youth volunteers. They gave a much needed coat of fresh paint to the Bob and Mary Lemon ENT clinic waiting room and the hallway of the Albergue boys wing.
One of the highlights of the trip was learning that our student, Jassiel, would be competing in the Central America Special Olympics in Panama, representing Nicaragua. We were able to observe some of his training while we were there, and to wish him Good Luck. Since returning home to the U.S., we have learned that Jassiel came home from Panama with a first place medal in the 100m race. Congratulations to Jassiel, but also, to the staff and trainers who supported Jassiel to reach this level of competition! Here are photos of him at the finish line of the games and wearing his medal with two of his Albergue “brothers”, Norman and Franklin.
A lot of people work together to support our students and provide a safe home for them. Georgina, the Albergue director, has monthly staff meetings to coordinate the operations for the students. Attending her very first staff meeting, Monica took the opportunity to get a snapshot of the group together. There were a couple people absent that morning, but the majority were present for the photo. What a great looking team!
There are so many more stories to share, but, alas, I have run out of space. The best way to get the “whole story” is to visit for yourself. I hope the photos give you an idea of what a special place it is.
Till the next newsletter…….ADIOS!!!
Mayflower Medical Outreach, Inc
P.O. Box 75449, Oklahoma City, OK 73147