Love is bigger than Money

Robyn Dahlquist shares the story how her boyfriend's cousin could receive medical support through the solidarity of friends and family. She portraits the bleak reality of sickness and medical provision in Nicaragua but also elaborates, how love and strong ties can overcome it.

In the past week the cousin of my boyfriend became seriously ill, but with the help of family and friends she could survive. A big thank you to my family and friends for helping her by donating money.

Rodeo madness

This week in Las Peñitas we only worked half day on Wednesday due to a meeting. The project was closed for the kids so that we could plan the agenda for the coming months. As I mentioned, there are lots of new volunteers and so because of this we had to plan who would be in Tamarindo and not, and who would work with which age group etc.

We will now, each one of us, be responsible for one extra homework assignment for the kids. I got math for this week, and had to come up with exercises for all age groups. Each one of us will also be responsible one week for updating on the Sonflora Facebook page. In Tamarindo we made paper with the kids from recycled paper. They were all so excited and the ones who didn’t help sat quiet and watched the process with curious eyes.

We asked them where paper comes from, and got many guesses like, photocopies and plastic, but none guessed trees. I don’t know if you remember that I told you they opened a rodeo in Tamarindo a few weeks back.

Anyways, one of the kids told me there had been an accident last Saturday as the bull pierced a man’s leg with his horn, and the guy was rushed to the hospital. The little boy also said that there were lots of kids mounting the bull and that his uncle paid him 20 Cordobas to do it too. He said he didn’t like it, and that he managed to stay on the bull for 12 jumps. Next week is supposedly the ladies turn, and his 5 year old little sister will have a go at it. Sigh. And people call this entertainment.

A major thank you to all my friends and family who helped me with the money

Life is unfair

On Wednesday Jorge got a call saying his cousin was dying. We rushed to his mother’s house where the whole family was gathered. Tamara is 22 years old and studies medicine on her fifth year. She has a little baby girl of 1,5 years. It all started with a headache so severe she decided to go to the hospital.

They gave her a shot and sent her back home at night. The following morning they found her unconscious in her bed.

She was rushed to the hospital, but they didn’t know the cause of her illness. She started having convulsions and difficulties breathing. The doctors said she needed a respiratory machine to be able to survive, and all the machines in the hospital were occupied by other patients.

Basically they left us there with no suggestions as to what to do, so we were running around like mad in the middle of the night trying to find a private clinic. First we found one which had the machine but didn’t have a doctor, so we could go there if we could persuade a doctor from the hospital to come there. This was not possible.

In the end we found a private clinic which had the machine. They said it would be expensive, but what was the choice when it was a matter of life and death? Tamara went into a coma. They diagnosed her with meningitis. Due to her heavy convulsions, two veins exploded, one in her brain and one in her lungs. This increased her breathing difficulties. A day after she started showing signs of recuperation. Three days after she got to the private clinic we were able to move her to the public hospital again as the respiratory machine had become available.

The bill in the private clinic was almost 3000 USD. There is no way a Nicaraguan family can pay this amount of money.

And the clinic even said they wouldn’t let the family move Tamara until the bill was cancelled. A normal salary in Nicaragua is not even 300 $ a month. I could pay 1500 $ but had to ask my friends in Sweden to help me collect the rest. All my friends and family helped, and I managed to collect the money. But what about all the other people that this could happen to, what would they do? I understand that this is an undeveloped country, but I don’t want to just accept that things are unfair and leave it.

In Nicaragua, people have health insurance through their work. A lot of employers do not pay their employees’ health insurance and a lot of people work in the market or only half time where there is work at the moment and aren’t employed by a company.

The public health care is free but if there would be things that the hospital doesn’t have, the insurance would pay for this. Before we left the private clinic, they said that Tamara had severe dengue and this was what had caused her illness in the first place. The first time you get dengue it is not that dangerous, but the second time the body cannot resist as much. This was the fifth time Tamara had dengue.

Ever since Tamara went to the hospital the first day, her little daughter had had fever. She was very alert though, and ran around playing most of the time. When the fever wouldn’t pass they decided to have a doctor look at her, and it turned out to be classic dengue.

There is no vaccination against dengue. You can only try to not get bitten by mosquitos. Not a lot of Nicaraguans use mosquito spray or mosquito nets. The authorities fumigate the streets and the houses every once in a while, and particularly in the places where there have been cases of dengue.

There is no easy solution.

A major thank you to all my friends and family who helped me with the money. Please take care of each other and appreciate life and health. Spend more time with your loved ones and less in the office. Spend more money on helping others and less on materialistic things you don’t need anyway. Be part of making the world a better place!


Robyn, 29 years old from Sweden. Volunteer in Leon, Nicaragua with Sonflora since march 2013. Each Thursday she is giving an update about her volunteer experience she gained in Latin America.

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