Asociación Trans-Americana de Voluntarios en Solidaridad
During the Summer of 2013, I traveled to Managua, Nicaragua as part of a delegation of Michigan students to live and work supporting a 6 year community partnership: Asociación Trans-Americana de Voluntarios en Solidaridad (ATRAVES).
My strong Spanish skills and comfort operating in foreign spaces enabled me to act as a liaison between our new community and my fellow American community workers. My tasks ranged from organizing community health workers, or Promotoras, by assisting during home visits serving aging residents, teaching seminars on domestic violence and substance abuse, translating children's health check-ups, maintaining flow at the health clinic, and filling in any gaps in service and support.
This photo is with Yami, head of the Promotoras. Only later would I learn to truly appreciate the close partnership my student organization had with the community we entered and impacted. We reported directly to community leaders who guided our tasks in a way that I would consider true solidarity.
Vivero el Eden: The photos above were taken before and after the start of the heavy rain season that damaged the foundation for the community garden our community had spent months clearing and preparing. On the day after the destruction, community members of all age, gender, and ability gathered resiliently to clear the debris and rebuild our garden of Eden.
This banner was displayed at a bus station outside of Leon, Nicaragua. It notes an understanding that the problem is not being different, rather being treated differently. It calls for no more stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. A lack of sexual health education in this country (and all, frankly...) remains a huge battle that clashes with cultural customs. Women, for instance, can by no means purchase condoms out of fear of stigma and ostracization given their 'inferior' status within their communities.
Each Thursday, we gave health talks, or charlas to patients waiting in the clinic based on the prioritized public health issues the Promatoras identified. The health clinic in Camilo Ortega/William Galeano can only function during the summer months when visiting community workers can help staff and maintain the flow of the clinic. This particular talk was on diet and exercise, and how community members can integrate this into their daily lives.