To follow up on the last post, I participated in the herbal medicine delegation to Nicaragua and it was amazing! Our delegation met with some really inspirational organizations in and around Esteli with roots in the Sandinista revolution, community organizing, community health work and herbal medicine. We learned that the early literacy brigades of the Sandinistas actually played a huge role in enabling the sharing of knowledge from traditional healers in the countryside. Health promoters learned from these folk herbalists and were later dispatched to communities across the country, utilizing local medicinal plants to meet the huge need for medical care that had built up under the Somoza dictatorship and continued under the US embargo, which severely limited the supply of medicine and medical equipment coming into the country.
We met with an organization called Cecalli that came out of this process and continues to do inspiring work today, developing community health workers and bringing natural medicine into the Nicaraguan health system. We also met with a community midwife, an herbal medicine foundation, and a campesino federation that has developed their own local water system, a strong women’s organization, a backyard garden program and other inspiring projects in the realms of sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty.
Working at the Natural Doctors International (NDI) clinic on Ometepe (an island of 42,000 people) was a truly inspiring experience that is hard to sum up concisely, but I learned a ton and feel really fortunate to have worked with some amazing doctors and herbalists there. Delegation participants broke into small groups and rotated between different consultation tables, making formulas in the pharmacy and doing UAs (yay urinalysis!), and sitting in with the psychology room. We treated folks with a broad range of health conditions, some quite serious, from different communities around the island. The clinic works in coordination with the Nicaraguan health care system (there is one hospital on the island), and patients are at times referred back and forth for tests, medications and holistic treatment. There’s a clear need for NDI’s work, and we were able to see dramatic positive results even in our short time there. All in all, NDI’s model of a permanent, holistic, community-based health clinic was pretty impressive, and I’m inspired to do more…
Huge thanks to everyone who contributed to my fundraising efforts to participate this amazing project! To find out more about NDI and ways to support them, visit http://www.ndimed.org.