So we leave tomorrow for Siuna! In 25 hours, I will be getting on a plane. That is very soon. I’m pretty anxious but not in a bad way, more like I just want to be there already and skip all the travel time and start everything! I’m excited to meet Juan and get to know the community and Salud Sin Limites. A personal goal of mine for this trip is to stay open minded and realize that things aren’t going to go according to plan, and kind of just be ready for anything. I also hope to improve my Spanish and learn as much as I can in three weeks about Nicaraguan culture and Siuna. Because of the global health elective class I took this past semester and a research paper I had to write on domestic violence in Nicaragua plus all the details we know from Juan, I feel like I do have a general idea of some of the cultural attitudes we will be encountering. From what we’ve learned, “machismo” is the role that a man must play as the protector or dominant force that is common throughout Latin America and unfortunately, is a factor that plays into the prevalence of domestic violence in Nicaragua. There are economic and political factors that serve as catalysts for domestic violence as well, such as widespread poverty and a history of political unrest and violence. I think it’s important to keep this background knowledge in mind while on the trip but with that being said, reading academic papers can only prepare you so much. Actually being there and immersing ourselves into the culture is going to be an entirely different ball game and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced!
For the project, our primary goal for GROW is getting to know the community in order to plan ways that the shelter and future projects can best meet their needs. More concretely, we will be getting to know Juan and the Nicaraguan government, visiting the university in Siuna, and neighboring villages with shelters to see how their programs work. I think we are also going to be buying materials for construction of the shelter and we may actually build the shelter depending on how quickly we can get the materials. I think the biggest thing for us besides doing whatever we can to further the progress of the actual shelter is to make sure we document everything really well so we can bring back as much knowledge as possible to Duke. Documentation of our experience through photos, videos, blog posts, and our own written journals is going to be really important to share with all of our GlobeMed staff so we can plan future projects and future GROW trips! I’m kind of worried about my Spanish skills and other minor stuff like making sure I have enough bug spray and sunscreen and snacks but I feel relatively calm about everything! Hoping not to have any nightmares from the malaria medication (“State of Wonder” scared me). Other than that, can’t wait! Wheels up from Philly on Tuesday and we’ll be in Siuna by Wednesday!