We dance, We play hot potato, We draw pictures of fruit...

(written at the end of June)

Just like that (snap!). I've been a Peace Corps volunteer for 3 whole months. It's kinda crazy to think about it. Almost half a year ago I was just landing in Nicaragua and in another 6 months I'll be visiting home for Christmas.

So as far as work goes I spend the majority of my time at these 2 locations:

Casa Materna
I really enjoy working here!!! Essentially, I have about 30+ pregnant ladies I see 3 times a week. There are always new women coming into the Casa Materna and others leaving to have their babies. Once a women leaves to have her baby she doesn't come back to the Casa Materna. This is one of the saddest things about working here, BUT since I live so close to the hospital I can visit the ladies after they've had their baby and congratulate them! That makes saying goodbye a little better. In the month and half that i've been here, all or most of the births have had little to no complications. All the mothers and children are living (as far as I know). This is the goal of the Casa Materna: To reduce the risk of Maternal and Child Mortality by bring women with risky pregnancies (risky for a variety of factors- age, weight, prior health status, # of previous births, location of home) to a safe place to wait until they can give birth. Once its time to give birth, the ladies are brought to the hospital for maternal and child health and hopefully everything goes well.

So what do I do at the Casa Materna. Essentially I play games to review health information that I teach the pregnant ladies. So i'll first give a charla (small lecture) on HIV, Breast Feeding, Family Planning, Effective Communication, Nutrition, etc. They listen to me as I lecture them on all kinds of health topics. Then to review, we play Jeopardy, Pictionary, Hot Potato, and do Sociodramas (all on health related topics). Other times we just have fun. We dance, do yoga, we sing, we draw photos of random things, like fruit. They laugh at my spanish. I laugh at their stories. They ask me about life in the states. I ask them how to make tortillas/ life in Nicaragua.

I found that its been a lot easier to bond with the ladies once I make the effort to know their names. So im constantly trying to remember 30 different names and faces and its ALWAYS changing. Overall, It's been a great challenge and rewarding experience.

Centro de Salud (Health Center)
I try to come into the health center at least 3 or 4 days a week. It really depends on when I'll be at the Casa Materna since they are located in opposite directions. Here I give charlas, help with health fairs, health trainings, or just prep for the activities in the week ahead. Hopefully i'll be able to start a pregnant ladies club soon! Its a new project im working on for July. I'd also like to get more involved with trainings. Although, I don't want to take someone else's job. I work in the Municipal Health Center, meaning that we have more staff than other small health centers. I'll keep searching for things NOT happening here or opportunities to improve things that are happening.

Other stuff I do...
- I still have my English class with Chinandegan youth. Its going pretty slow…
- I'm working on collaborating with a NGO that builds the capacity of parents of disabled children to help stimulate these children earlier in life, which will help them developmentally. Another NGO I want to work with involves community banks and health clinics. In the next few months I plan on getting started with these NGOS.
- I've started running with a soccer team. Its an all guys team so I don't play in the games, but I get to practice with them and the exercise is good. I'm also learning how to ref games and expanding my Nica social network.
- I've started giving charlas at an albergue (hostel) thats right across the street from the emergency room of the hospital. Usually patients will sleep here if they have an extended stay. Often, they have a lot of pregnant women, but usually these women are within hours of giving birth, so my charlas here not as participatory as the ones in the casa materna.

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