This is Puerto Cabezas/Bilwi as described in The Lonely Planet. “This impoverished Caribbean port town and ethnic melting pot sprawls along the coast and back into the scrubby pines on wide brick streets and red-earth roads, full of people and music, smiles and sideways glances.
Daunting are the challenges that a young woman has to face if she wants to become a physician in a culture where some 13-year-olds become mothers, where most children legally end school at age 12, and where the average annual family income is less than $2,000.
I had the opportunity to go to Puerto Cabezas last December and observe first-hand the interview process of our potential new Adelante Mujer doctors. Listening to their stories, I was astounded by their fortitude. Next month I will write more about them individually, but first I want to explain the interview and selection process.
After joining the Board of Directors of Adelante Mujer in July 2016 I made my first visit to the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, the second poorest region in the Western Hemisphere, in December. I was thrilled to be able to travel to Bilwi/Puerto Cabezas, with Sister Diane Bauknecht, where we attended the graduation of nine (one not pictured) new Adelante Mujer Doctors.
Sometimes a visit with medical students in Nicaragua can reveal some pretty deep sadness. One such experience occurred last month during a meeting with six of the Adelante Mujer third-year students.
Qualifying for medical school in any country is not something a person takes for granted. To be prepared for higher education in Nicaragua, much less for medical school, is daunting beyond description.
When someone from the Adelante Mujer team travels to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, it is for business. We zip around the area between the university, the hospital, and the bank. Sometimes we go to each place two or three or four times. One night was an exception because we went to church for liturgy with all the URACCAN University graduates. Bishop David Zywiec, OFM Cap. presided with the prayerful gathering in the completely filled San Pedro (St. Peter) church.
People have asked me, “What do you do when you or a representative of Adelante Mujer travels to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua each semester?” You are invited to share a capsulized version of my very engaging and rewarding trip a few weeks ago.