Posted by: meaghaninwaslala | December 11, 2009

Virginia shares her story….

By Meaghan Gruber, Water for Waslala Field Manager in Waslala, Nicaragua

In order to get to know Virginia, Water for Waslala’s Director of Community Outreach, a little better and to understand what it’s like to grow up in Nicaragua,  WfW asked her to share her story which can be found below:

I was born May 22, 1965 in the community of Cunada del Carrizal.  In 1977 I emigrated to the community of El Corozal, a community within the Municipality of Waslala, due to the droughts seen in Cunada del CarrizalI was married in September 1980 and had my first child in May 1982.  I now have five children including four girls and one boy. One of my children, a baby girl died after 22 days of life.

Virginia and her husband Jose Angel

In 1978 I entered the first grade but never finished the school year.  In 1980 I went back to school due to a literacy campaign that was put on by the government and achieved academic status of a 6th grader.  When the war started, instead of attending school, I worked with the Red Cross to aid in helping the wounded. During this time it was dangerous to be in possention of any documents regarding my academic status, so I burned all records to avoid them being taken. Additionally I served as a  mediator with the armed forces to help with the frequent kidnappings that occured even years after the war ended. When it was safe to go back to school, I started taking night classes for adults and  in 1999 entered the public high school in Waslala and completed my secondary school studies in 2005.

In 1991 I began learning about midwifery and delivered eight babies in my community in the first year. During this time, my family was very poor and I decided to move to Siuna  (a small village further to the east from Waslala, about a six hour minimum bus ride from Waslala) to work for a doctor in his home. After just five months I returned to my family and soon after moved to Waslala to begin working as a health leader with the Health Pastoral of the Parish. The Health Pastoral of the Parish trains health leaders in each community so that there is a point person and someone with more knowledge that attends workshops in Waslala to deliver health information.

In 1992, I become a volunteer natural medicine promoter. Then in 1993 I began going on the gira misionera (mission trips to all the communities) with the priests to hold the mass and the sacraments. The first gira that I was on lasted 22 days and covered 20 communities.  I carried a small medicine cabinet to share with the communities and gave talks on some of their most chronic problems including: parasites, colds, stomach aches, bronchitis, diarrhea, etc. During this time the government health ministry didn’t go to the communities as there were still many armed groups operating in the area.  We gave small health consultations while the priests performed mass and confessions.

Each day started at 5  in the morning and often went until 9 or 10 at night.  Oftentimes we were so busy that there wasn’t enough time to eat and there was little food in the communities due to the war and the armed groups that were stationed in the communities.  I was quite afraid during our travels as we were continuously interrogated by the armed groups because they didn’t trust the priests or work they performed in the parish communities.

Throughout the rest of the 90s, I worked in many different jobs within the Health Ministry focusing on natural medicine, midwifery, as well as health education. We educated the communities on many subjects including: family planning, HIV-Aids, as well as how to boil water to make it pure, chlorine, and SODIS [a method of treating water through the sun´s energy].

After my project ended in the Health Pastoral I kept busy helping the elderly living assisted living homes who were without any family living in Waslala.  I helped treat those in the home and tried to gain financial support to ensure that everyone had food to eat and the proper medications.

Once the economy got very bad, I found myself without a job for over a year. The Water Pastoral then contacted me to see if I would like to work with them, which is where I am now today working with the communities that have or have expressed interest in having a water system built.  I had known of Water for Waslala for many years, and therefore I was able to quickly learn the duties and help the parish become more organized.

As of October 2009, I have visited 14 communities to help organize their leadership and discuss the community maintenance funds.  In the next year we will be quite busy with several new community projects beginning and the development of education workshops. I very much enjoy this challenging work because I get to work with the people in the communities to help them live better lives.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. I hope that you enjoyed hearing about my experiences living in Nicaragua.

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