Mayflower Medical Outreach began when volunteers took a trip to Nicaragua, looking for a need to be filled.
Nancy Klos, the organization’s Deaf Education Director and a founding member, said it started when a group from Mayflower Church at 3901 NW 63rd St. in Oklahoma City, took the trip in 1998. An ear, nose and throat doctor was on the trip, so the group was in tune with that area of need.
“We recognized in the town that we are based out of, Jinotega, that there seemed to be an unusual proportion of people who had hearing health issues as well as deafness,” Klos said. “We found our niche, we found a need, and that’s how it started.”
Now unaffiliated with the church, Mayflower Medical Outreach supports programs in Nicaragua focusing on audiology, medicine and education. For each aspect, the organization has a director in the U.S. and in Nicaragua, Klos said. Mayflower facilitates two trips a year, where volunteers provide help with construction, maintenance, translation, medical help and other areas.
Medical providers attend and perform procedures and help to train doctors in Nicaragua, Klos said. The trips attract physicians and medical students from around the U.S., as well as students in Mayflower Church’s youth group, Klos said. The trips typically occur in winter and summer, and last for about ten days. Volunteers who attend pay their own way, Klos said. The organization also runs a boarding school for deaf students, Albergue Mayflower. Mayflower worked with the Nicaragua Ministry of Education to have the students attend local schools in the morning and enrichment classes at Albergue in the afternoon, where they are instructed in Nicaraguan Sign Language and learn academics, life skills instruction, arts activities, sports and take field trips, according to the Mayflower website.
Mayflower partially funds the school by finding people to sponsor individual students, Klos said. Sponsorship for each student, each year, costs $800 and covers their school supplies, food, room and board and uniform for the city public school, according to the Mayflower website.
In addition to sponsorships, the organization has opened businesses, such as a bakery, in Nicaragua to raise money for operations, Klos said. They also accept donations of money and supplies, and occasionally hold fundraisers, such as a raffle currently going on for a 2016 Honda Fit LX and tickets to an Oklahoma City Thunder game, according to the website.
For more information about the organization, volunteer trips or ways to help, visit www.mmonicaragua.org/.