Many of our students are from an area in Nicaragua along the Rio Coco ‘Coconut River’ called Waspam. Bordering on Honduras along Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast, it is a 4-5 hour drive to Puerto Cabezas.
On our bi-annual trip to Bilwi, Puerto Cabezas this past December, we met many medical students who came to apply for our financial assistance. Once again, I am impressed by the caliber of these young women. They are serious, determined, intelligent, and devoted to their goal of helping to heal the sick in their communities.
As I sit here in the Managua Airport awaiting my flight from the balmy tropics of Nicaragua to the freezing blasts of another Wisconsin winter, I have time to reflect on our recent interviews with our current students from medical school in Puerto Cabezas as well as the candidates, young women who, despite living in one of the most impoverished regions in the world, refuse to give up on their dream of bringing medical help to those who, like themselves, have had to survive with little or nothing.
This is Jurica, one of our student doctors in her 6th year, and this is a translation of what she wrote regarding some of the work she is currently doing in the hospital in Bilwi, Puerto Cabezas.
Sister Diane made the semi-annual trip to Puerto Cabezas/Bilwi in early May 2017. The schedule is always full on these visits, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and often not ending until 8:00 p.m. While there she meets with our contacts at the university and visits the hospital where she often runs into our graduates. She meets with our local administrator and handles our banking needs. The most important meetings though are those with our current students and the interviews with new applicants.
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.
We are dedicating this blog to our foundress, Sister Ann McKean. We celebrate her 60th year as a Sister of Saint Agnes on August 15, 2017. Sister Ann’s background includes teaching in colleges, universities, and even a Catholic seminary. She has held the title “senior professor of theology.” Her subjects have included Sacred Scripture, women’s studies, world religions, and anthropology.
Tucked away on the third floor of the Sisters of Saint Agnes Nazareth Center & Court in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin U.S.A. is a tiny room no larger than 8’ x 10’. It contains a desk with a laptop computer, a printer, and a recently purchased chair for Sister Ann, one which she is able to get in and out of by herself. Her walker is always nearby. Next to this desk is a built-in closet. Opposite that desk is a small table and another chair for one more person to work. There’s little room to walk between them. A window looks into the hallway. The desk and walls are decorated with photos of current and previous students, a clock, and a crucifix.
People have many reasons for giving. What follows are some facts about giving and some of the comments we have received from our donors:
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.