This month I want to share my feelings and tell a story, a story of sacrifice, of learning, of friendship, and life lessons: a story that began 13 years ago. I decided to study medicine to relieve the pain of the most afflicted because medicine is a career in which we are at the service of our neighbor as well as our own advancement and self-improvement. Deep inside my soul had been planted the seed of a vocation for medicine. I did not choose medicine, it chose me. I knew I had all the qualities to be a good doctor.
My Soul Friend, Sister Ann
I entered the Intercultural Medicine Program at URACCAN University when it first began in 2009. I could not afford even the mínimum program fees and had to charge them. During my second year I was stressed about how I would ever be able to follow my dream to become a doctor. It was then that I first met Sister Ann McKean, CSA at the convent in Bilwi, Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua and I told her my problem. That ángel of mine went to the university and paid my fees and when she brought the receipt to my home, I cried. That was how I became the first Adelante Mujer student and that was the beginning of my beautiful relationship with Sister Ann Continue reading “My Soul Friend, Sister Ann”
Reasons to Celebrate
On February 18, Adelante Mujer students took the Hippocratic Oath along with their peers at their URACCAN University promotion ceremony. Ms. Kathy Levy Wilson, onsite coordinator for Adelante Mujer, spoke at the ceremony, reminding the women that while they have been inspired by others, they are to go on to be an inspiration. We congratulate Adelante Mujer Doctors Dominga, Nerey, Junieth, Damaris, Slilma, Slilma, Xochilt, and Gloria, and all those who took the oath.
Connecting in a Pandemic
Until December 2019, the director(s) of Adelante Mujer would travel to Nicaragua two times each year. While there, they would interview prospective students, meet with current students, and meet with the on-site coordinator. If the timing was right, they would even attend a promotion ceremony. All of these events are great ways to get to know the women in our program. Then COVID hit.
Pandemic. Unprecedented. Social distancing. PPE. Quarantine. Virtual. New normal. Since early 2020, these words and phrases have taken on new significance. The world has changed. We have changed. Our ways of connecting have changed. International travel has decreased by 73%, and until recently, in-person meetings were nearly non-existent.
So how does a small international nonprofit make it work? Through Zoom, of course! Through Zoom meetings, we are able to stay in regular contact with our on-site coordinator. We can discuss the needs of the women, changes at the university, events that impact the people of Nicaragua. We also interview our prospective students over Zoom. The students at URACCAN often don’t have a computer, and some don’t even have phones. But for those determined to find a way to stay in school and who learn about Adelante Mujer, they overcome the barriers.
Last semester, we interviewed four students, all using their phones. One had to find a spot to interview between her activities. Another had to go to a relative’s house to borrow a phone for the interview. All four interviewed well. We are only waiting for their grades from last semester to determine eligibility. The new semester starts soon, so please pray for Michayska, Jheymi, Josneira, and Arlen. They may be the next Adelante Mujer students!
~~~ Karen, February 2022 ~~~
Made for Goodness and Compassion
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. Continue reading “Made for Goodness and Compassion”
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. Continue reading “A Time of Waiting”
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 Continue reading “Choices”
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, Continue reading “The Difference You Make”
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 Continue reading “In Their Own Words”
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. Interacting 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”