In April (2014) I’ll be heading off to Nicaragua for just over 3 weeks! This will be my second time visiting Central America and first time in Nicaragua. I love Central and South America for the wonderful, welcoming people, the amazing fresh food, and the sweet sound of Spanish. I just know I’m going to love Nicaragua for all these reasons but also for the adventures that only a jungle filled, tropical country bordering 2 oceans can offer! This time however, my trip will be a bit different for me. The purpose of this trip is to volunteer for 10 days and then spend 2 weeks traveling.
First, I’ll be heading to Los Medranos, a small town outside of San Marcos, south of Managua. I’ll be traveling with a group of 8 co-workers to teach a First Responders course. As you may or may not know, I work as a Paramedic at home. A few years ago a charity organization out of London, Ontario called Three-Fold Ministries, asked paramedics from Ontario to travel to their retreat center in Nicaragua called Skylark, and teach emergency first aid to locals from all over Nicaragua. Nicaragua is one of the poorest nations in Central America and they have no emergency first aid services (no ambulances or paramedics) outside of their major city centers. For those who don’t live in these more heavily populated areas, access to emergency first aid is limited to non-existent. Often times if there is a medical emergency in these smaller and sometimes more remote communities, the closest health care facility with a doctor can be many hours drive away on dirt roads, with travel conditions varying depending on the time of year. Three-Fold Ministries, who takes on a variety of community projects, identified the need for these villages and towns to have someone in their community trained in emergency first aid so that someone would have life saving knowledge and equipment when medical emergencies occurred. This year will make the 3rd anniversary of the program which is run in 2 parts. About 60 Nicaraguans are chosen from across the country to take part in two, 1 week long training courses. In April my group will be teaching Part 1 of the Emergency First Responders course and then in November another group of paramedics from Ontario will travel to Nicaragua to teach Part 2 to the same group.
As I stated already, my co-workers and I will be volunteering our time to teach for 1 week, but this is not the only commitment asked of us. We will be using our own vacation time and had to pay a certain cost to cover flights, among other expenses. We have also each committed to fundraising $1500 each to cover the costs involved in hosting the participants themselves, as they cannot afford to pay for this course. All money fund raised go towards transportation to the facility, accommodations for the week and meals for the participants. We also purchase first aid equipment that we will take down to Nicaragua with us and donate to the communities so they have the resources necessary to handle emergencies when they arise. With 8 of us going, that’s a total of $12,000 we must raise! We have been seeking donations as well as hosting various fundraisers around Ottawa. If you wish to donate to this cause, you can do so through the following link. You can also check out our Facebook site and the web site Progress in Paramedicine.
I’m very excited to be a part of such a wonderful project! It’s a sustainable way to import knowledge into a developing country, knowledge that is truly life saving. As the old saying goes, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Medics that have gone to teach this course in the past have come back with very positive experiences, saying how eager the participants are to learn emergency first aid and how much they appreciate and value this opportunity to learn these life saving skills.
– Photo’s courtesy of Progress in Paramedicine –
After the course is finished, my co-workers and I will spend a few days in the Corn Islands (at our own expense), relaxing and enjoying some R&R. This will mark the end of the mission and most will return home. But not me! I’ll be staying on another 2 weeks to travel and see what adventures I can find!