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Made for Goodness and Compassion

           Photo by John Mathew Smith. Licensed under the CCPL.

God’s dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion. – Desmond Tutu

With the recent passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on his life and some of the wisdom he shared with the world.  Tutu was a passionate man who believed in the equality of all people and worked for the rights of the oppressed.  He believed everyone deserved a quality education, stating, “It is our moral obligation to give every child the very best education possible.” When Tutu graduated high school in 1950, he wanted to become a doctor and had been accepted into medical school.  However, his parents couldn’t afford the tuition.  He was able to get a scholarship to study education, so was able to go to college.

Like Tutu, the parents of Adelante Mujer students cannot afford to pay the six years of tuition and expenses it takes to complete the medical program at URACCAN.  But given financial help, the women in our program are working hard to learn, to become excellent doctors.  They are working to reach their potential, knowing they are made for goodness and compassion.  Like Tutu, they will have a positive impact on their world.

We can all do the same in our own corners of the world.  We can make a difference.  We can show compassion to those around us and do good in our communities.  Our own acts may seem small, but each will have an impact.  As Desmond Tutu said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

— Karen, January 2022 —

 

A Time of Waiting

Advent is a time of expectant waiting for Christians. During that time, we prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christmas, opening our minds and hearts to the coming of Christ. As Pope Francis stated, “Advent invites us to a commitment to vigilance, looking beyond ourselves, expanding our mind and heart in order to open ourselves up to the needs of people, of brothers and sisters, and to the desire for a new world.”  –  Pope Francis, Angelus, 2018

The women in Adelante Mujer are at a time in their lives where they are doing just that. They are looking beyond themselves and expanding their minds as they study their courses. They are expanding their hearts and opening themselves up to the needs of people as they work in the hospital or provide health care to people in their homes. On November 27, our sixth-year students traveled to Managua to gain experience by regular rotations in various departments at the larger hospitals. Soon they will take the Hippocratic Oath and begin their internships.

As you prepare for Christmas this year, please continue to keep our women in prayer, especially the sixth-year students. And may the new life celebrated during this holy season settle in your hearts and bring you peace and joy. Merry Christmas!

—- Karen, December 2021 —-

Choices

Think about the choices you make each day – what to eat, what to wear, how you will spend your time. Oftentimes, you have multiple options. Here in the United States, most of us have choices between wants, not needs. But in countries like Nicaragua, that is often not the case. Young university women are faced with choices such as, “Do I spend money on a taxi to safely get to my destination, or do I walk tonight so that I have enough money for a meal?”  

The students in the Adelante Mujer program do not have to make that decision. Our program offers them funding for transportation to the hospital for on-site training and for a meal when they are on campus. Our program helps relieve some of the financial worries of these women who desire to serve the people of their communities. We fund them, not just to be doctors, but to be excellent doctors!

We have just started receiving applications for Adelante Mujer for the first semester of 2022. The process includes an online application, submission of grades, and an interview. In this process, we ask the women why they choose to study medicine. One applicant shared, “Giving support to people who need it most, for me to help society, is a dream and it gives me satisfaction when I can give them answers.”  Another shared, “Since I was little my dream has been to be a doctor, I have always liked to help everyone I can. My region needs more (medical) people available, and I want to be one of them.”  She goes on to talk about her hopes beyond initial medical school and our program to say, “I want to be a cardiologist so that people from my region no longer have to travel to the Pacific coast or other places to be seen by a specialist.”

Women in Adelante Mujer are making choices to help their community. Their choices are not made lightly. They are committing to six years of study, one year of internship, and two years of service, with more study for those who choose to specialize. And their choices are making a difference for themselves, their families, and their nation.

Karen – November 2021 

 

 

The Difference You Make

Nicaragua, a land of natural beauty, has a culturally diverse population, with over 400,000 inhabitants identifying themselves as members of an indigenous or ethnic community.  Many of these indigenous peoples live in the Autonomous Regions of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast.  In this rural area of the country, doctors and hospitals are in short supply, with a patient to doctor ratio of approximately 9,000 to 1.

According to the Pan American Health Organization, “To eliminate health inequities for indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, and members of other ethnic groups, it is essential to promote intercultural approaches. Intercultural health models such as complementary, traditional and integrative medicine (TCIM) contribute to self-determination by promoting self-care, empowerment, and a people-centered approach.”  This is where URACCAN (University of the Autonomous Regions of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast), Adelante Mujer, and those who support us come together.

The Intercultural Medicine program at URACCAN was developed to “train community doctors who offer health care, taking into account the worldview of our Afro-descendant, indigenous and mixed-race peoples of the Caribbean Coast, and complementarity between the different health systems existing in the Autonomous Regions.”  This program teaches students not only modern medicine practice, but also the appreciation and application of traditional healing methods.

Adelante Mujer was founded to help young women in Nicaragua attend the university and reach their God-given potential.  Working with the program at URACCAN, Adelante Mujer helps support the women to become doctors, who will then give back to their communities.

You, the supporters of Adelante Mujer, have had a huge impact on these women and those they serve.  Because of YOU, 61 women have become doctors through the program at URACCAN and are providing medical care to those in rural areas of Nicaragua, some of whom can only be reached via a boat ride on the Rio Coco.

Because of YOU, 45 more women are getting school and medical supplies to help them study and become excellent doctors.  Because of YOU, these women have safe transportation to the hospital to learn hands-on.  Because of YOU, these women also get a good meal while they study because the brain can’t learn when the body is hungry.  Because of YOU, the underserved indigenous people of Nicaragua are getting the health care they need.

 

 

Thank you for the difference YOU make!

  ~~~~~~ Karen, October 2021 ~~~~~~

In Their Own Words

In July, we shared that our campaign to raise money for computers was a success.  Our onsite coordinator in Nicaragua wrote, “The girls told me to say thanks for this great help and some of them said that they were going to say thanks personally, they are so happy and thankful.”  Many of the women have written to show their gratitude for the computers, and for ongoing financial support.  We would like to share some of that appreciation in their own words.

“I already received the computer and I want to thank you infinitely for the support that you and together with the organization give us. Many, many thanks!” – Dora 

“Thank you for giving me the computer, I am very happy and grateful to all of you for your support…I will always be grateful, if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be studying.” – Xochilt

“…to the donors who provide a seed for the girls of the medical school, God bless those hands, their jobs, their lives and their families.  I always keep them present in my prayers.” – Katia 

“I am very grateful for the support and your good wishes that you give me. It is a joy for me to belong to this organization of ADELANTE MUJER.” – Zuleyka

“I must tell you that I am deeply grateful to you and Adelante Mujer for allowing me to be part of the scholarship.” – Athzhiri 

“Thank you very much for always having me in the plans of the Adelante Mujer program and being able to be part of this great work that is a great blessing to me. I hope in the Lord Jesus Christ to always get ahead and never give up until I am a good Doctor as a useful instrument to save lives.” – Dominga  

“Thank you very much for giving me this financial support, I hope to meet your expectations and I will continue studying to be able to meet my goals. Thank you very much again, I am very grateful.” – Yatzhari 

We appreciate the generosity you showed to help 27 Adelante Mujer students receive the technology they need to study more effectively and efficiently.  Thank you for all your support of these future doctors!

~~~~~~ Karen Heuberger, Executive Director, September 2021 ~~~~~~

 

Passing the Baton

Throughout my 63 years as a Sister of St. Agnes, I have been blessed to work in various exciting and fulfilling ministries. Without a doubt, roles I played in Adelante Mujer these last seven-plus years were the ultimate definition of exciting and fulfilling! Working with Sister Ann McKean, CSA, PhD, the Foundress of Adelante Mujer, was never boring because her brilliant mind and daily ideas to improve the world were forever expanding. Sister Diane and KarenInteracting with more than one hundred medical students who overcome challenges beyond our comprehension was inspiring. Collaborating with numerous personnel in Nicaragua was a privilege and blessing as was working with our own office staff in Fond du Lac. Continue reading “Passing the Baton”

Happy Students

Thanks to so many people who responded generously to the request for donations to purchase laptops for Adelante Mujer students. During  June, Adelante Mujer was able to provide much needed computers to 27 students! What a blessing. Please take a look at the smiles when Kathy Levy, the Adelante Mujer Coordinator in Bilwi, Puerto Cabezas presented the electronic treasures to medical students who will no longer be forced to study using cell phones they own or borrow. 

          Continue reading “Happy Students”

Where Have All the Doctors Gone?

We can proudly tell you where one of the Adelante Mujer doctors has gone and what she has accomplished. On March 26 a member of the first graduating class of Intercultural Medicine and of Adelante Mujer earned her title as Pediatrician from UNAN University in León, Nicaragua. Her letter below describes her gratitude. Each and every donor can celebrate her success which may not have been possible without your help. 

Hello. I am Joice. I was part of the Adelante Mujer program almost from the beginning and with its support I was able to conclude the Intercultural Medicine career of URACCAN University. I have so much to thank for and I have so many memories of Adelante Mujer.  

 

I still remember the day I arrived at the interview with Sister Ann McKean. I remember that Sister Ann thought I could be her interpreter because my friend Ana, who also was coming to ask for support of Adelante Mujer, told Sister Ann that I could interpret for us. That was a moment that caused us all to laugh. I do know some English but I could not be an interpreter!                 Continue reading “Where Have All the Doctors Gone?”

Sixty-One Doctors and Counting

Several years ago when Sister Ann McKean, CSA, PhD and I were talking with Dr. Manuel Salas about the goals of Adelante Mujer, we asked how many doctors Nicaragua would need. Thirty? Fifty? About how many? His reply was simple. “We will never have enough;  there is such a terrible shortage.”  “All right,” we decided, “Adelante Mujer will continue to provide financial assistance to women medical students for as long as God and our donors help us.”

On March 24, 2021 another glorious success of Adelante Mujer’s mission became a reality. Seven industrious students pronounced the Hippocratic Oath to become devoted physicians.

 

 

 

The Promotion Ceremony begins with the formal introduction of each student and her escort. Here Jenny and her father are announced as they enter the assembly. Continue reading “Sixty-One Doctors and Counting”