“You think you’re giving, but you really get back so much more,” says Janet Walker, RN, a case manager at NorthBay Medical Center, of her volunteer work in Latin America. Janet travels to Managua, Nicaragua, each year on missions with the Community Presbyterian Church in Vacaville. From there they drive to the small town of Guadalupe y San Ramone and proceed to help with everything from construction to running a medical clinic.
“People hear about the clinics and families walk for hours to receive care,” Janet says. “We treat about 100 patients a day, from babies to people past 90 – some so old they don’t even know their age.”
The clinics see a variety of patients with complaints ranging from headaches, allergies and respiratory problems to wounds and parasites. Because of the hot, humid climate, asthma and arthritis are common.
“This reminds me of why I became a nurse,” Janet adds. “This is literally helping on a very basic level. We also bring donated eye glasses, and helping someone see, often for the first time, can be life-changing.”
Unlike some charities that come loaded with supplies, Janet’s group brings money, consults with the local doctors, and purchases what they need. That includes items for assistance bags for the elderly, filled with cookies, toilet paper, Quaker Oats, sardines, toothpaste, analgesic gel, and Zepol (like Vick’s Vapor Rub).