We are happy to report that our trip to Nicaragua was very successful. We were excited but a little nervous about coordinating our first mission trip. We were very fortunate to have an experienced team accompany us on the trip. Their dedication, hard work and support were very much appreciated.
The team arrived in Managua on January 29, 2016. Dennis and Bev Bedard met us at the airport with our documentation. They had arrived earlier to start the process of setting up a permanent dental clinic in Managua, in memory of Father Denis Hebert. This is a very exciting project for Dentistry for All and the people of Nicaragua.
The location of our mission this year was Achuapa, which is normally about 3 hours from Managua. The roads are generally very good. This year we had to take a detour off the highway, which added a little time to the trip and some interesting scenery. Achuapa is where we store our equipment, so the set up was more convenient. The facility was well equipped to support our dental clinic and the community representatives were very organized. Our dental team worked well together which made the clinic setup uneventful. We were very fortunate to have Oscar back as our interpreter this year because he makes our work so much easier. We appreciate his interactions with the members of the communities we visit and his dedication to Dentistry for All.
The team worked very hard the first week. We were very productive despite the heat and the challenging work conditions. There is a dentist in Achuapa, so we requested that patients from outlying communities be given priority. The list was managed well and we were able to provide a valuable service to all the communities in the area. It was very rewarding to see patients that were returning to our clinic for maintenance only because the previous treatment was stable.
The team headed to Leon on the weekend for some rest and relaxation. Blaine and I headed back to Managua to pick up 2 dental students from the University of Alberta. We were very fortunate that they would be joining us for our second week in Achuapa. We all spent the weekend in Leon enjoying the celebrations in honor of Ruben Dario, a famous Nicaraguan poet who died 100 years ago. We had to get back to Achuapa on Sunday, in time to watch Super Bowl 50. Thank goodness the Broncos won, otherwise, our second week may have been miserable!
The second week was also very busy. The students did an excellent job managing the workload and the challenges in the clinic. This allowed us some time to divide the sundries and equipment to help support the permanent clinic in Managua. The team worked extremely hard to meet the dental needs of the community. Thanks to very generous donations, we were also able to provide reading glasses, hats, bags and gifts to our patients. We were able to outfit 10 soccer teams with jerseys. The smiles when they put them on were incredible!
The community was very appreciative of our services and support. We were treated to a very special meal on Wednesday night. Representatives from each community that we serviced joined us in a celebration. There was amazing food, drink and entertainment. Each community expressed their gratitude, which was a very humbling experience.
We had a great stay in Achuapa. The food and accommodation were very good. There were flush toilets and showers, which made our stay more enjoyable. The community was very appreciative and the patients touched our hearts.
We travelled to El Chapperal to plan next year’s trip. The community is so excited to host us! They are very sad that Dennis and Bev Bedard will not be joining us. They have made such a difference in the lives of the Nicaraguan people and their kindness and support will always be remembered! We are very honored to be able to continue their legacy!
Blaine and Trudy AuCoin