Riscos de Oro Campaign,
The Ascenta Foundation organized 92 volunteers for this four day mission. Over 2,200 patients were treated in total. A team of ten optometrists and opticians examined 723 patients and dispensed 1,270 pairs of glasses. Fourteen more pairs of glasses were specially made in Canada and shipped to Nicaragua. Four dentists from Managua, Nicaragua joined in the mission and performed 440 extractions during the four days. Approximately 2,100 patients visited the general medical clinic seeking immunizations and treatment for respiratory infections, parasites and malnutrition. Included in the outreach program were demonstrations to local children on proper hand-washing and tooth-brushing, and 1,500 Family Care Packs, containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, vitamins (adult and pediatric) and acetaminophen, were also distributed.
Calibre Mining Corp.
This four day mission was sponsored, in part, by Calibre Mining Corp. who were instrumental to the success of this mission. Calibre owns and operates a gold & silver mine in the Riscos de Oro area and, in addition to funding, provided the Ascenta Foundation the following support:
- preparing and setting up the clinic;
- coordinating with local authorities to allow Ascenta Foundation volunteers and equipment into the country;
- providing room and board and transportation to Ascenta Foundation volunteers;
- assembling a team of local volunteer doctors, nurses and nursing students and translators; and
- organizing regular radio broadcasts to promote the clinic to surrounding communities.
In addition, Calibre is responsible for valuable upgrades to the school facilities where the clinic operated.
by Dr. Duncan Miller
Below is a blurb written by Dr. Duncan Miller, one of our directors, who attended the Mission:
Nicaragua was a place that I could find on a map, but could never spell without the aid of a dictionary until preparing for this medical mission. I read a little about the country prior to departure and was shocked to find that it is second only to Haiti with respect to poverty in the Western Hemisphere.
As this was my first time on a medical mission, I had no idea what to expect; so it was with a kaleidoscope of emotions, ranging from excitement to panic, that I set foot down on the tarmac after a rather ‘exhilarating’ plane ride from Managua to Bonanza (technically, it wasn’t tarmac, it was gravel, and it was surrounded by machine gun wielding youthful soldiers). Wandering around the arrivals area, awaiting the landing of our second plane, I wondered to myself what I was doing here, and whether this was all just one giant ode to poor judgment on my part.
We then boarded a group of SUVs to take us to Rosita, where we would be staying during the mission. The trip in the trucks was done convoy style, with soldiers riding point in the back of a pick up truck. The so-called roads made the turbulence of the plane ride seem like placid water. Actually, it wasn’t bad, bumpy to put it mildly, and the hour-long journey gave us a chance to get to know some of the other people we would be working with on the mission.
We spent the next few days setting up our clinic in Riscos de Oro, transforming the town’s school into a health facility. The classrooms became clinics for Optometry, Surgery, Medicine, and Dentistry, as well as a Pharmacy. On the second day we were making these changes a young couple was ushered in to see us. They had walked eight hours with their infant daughter. She had a cleft lip and palate, was not able to breast feed due to this condition, and was vomiting and having diarrhea. As we were still in the process of setting up, we had no I.V. equipment on site, or even a stethoscope. We bundled the family into one of the trucks and sent them to the hospital in Rosita for some much needed rehydration.
The next day the clinic officially opened, and over the four days we worked there more than 2,200 people walked through our doors. I prescribed more anti-parasite medication in one hour, than I have in 20 years of practice in British Columbia. I saw a lot of disease, and a lot of things I wish I hadn’t: children rendered blind by congenital cataracts that would have been promptly corrected in a more developed nation, girls barely in their teens having children, and row upon row of malnourishment.
What I recall most vividly is the unbelievable strength, courage and happiness of the people I was so very fortunate to meet and treat. I have never been so humbled in my professional/personal life, nor have I ever felt so fulfilled. I would go again in an instant, and I thank all the donors that made this mission a reality.