During the last two weeks in March, Marysville dentist Greg Gosch led a dental mission team to San Ramon, Nicaragua with Corner of Love Ministries, to provide much needed dental care to people in the surrounding villages. Joining him on mission were his wife Susan, a dental hygienist, staff members Cynthia Fox and Jolene Hollingsworth, both dental assistants, Dr. Bud Dubay and his wife Darlene who reside in Stanwood, patient and dental hygienist Carlos Valverde, and dental assistant Ramona Lujan.
Nicaragua, a tropical land that produces some of our favorite Starbucks coffee, is one of the poorest countries in Central America. It is a country of extremes; incredible beauty, a tropical climate, fertile soil that can grow almost anything, yet the majority of people live in tiny shacks, some made out of plastic sheets and branches, others of mud bricks. In this remote area, only 1 in 53 "homes" have potable water. Less than 20% of the children are able to attend school for lack of basic needs like clothing or shoes, as well as nominal tuition fees.
After landing in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, Dr. Gosch and his team, along with the 60 medical team members, were bused for 3 hours along winding mountain roads to San Ramon. All team members are housed and fed at the "Quinta", a beautiful facility completed in 2009. The next day, donated medical, dental, and clothing supplies brought in old suitcases by team members were unpacked, organized and added to the existing stock. Plastic bins were packed with pharmaceuticals, donated clothing items and shoes, donated personal items and dental supplies in anticipation of our first village work day.
Each morning two teams of 30 to 35 volunteers would depart the Quinta in brightly colored buses for a 2 or 3 hour ride into the mountains to small country villages. Every day brought a new adventure. The beautiful scenery and strange plant life made the bus rides amazing. The more adventuresome rode on the top of the buses for a better view.
It was like the "circus was coming to town", when the buses would arrive in the village. The small church or school house that would serve as the mission facility would be overflowing with people of all ages. Horses, dogs, pigs, chickens, geese, and the occasional turkey were also in the crowds. Lots of volunteers were available to help unpack the buses so the teams could set up and start serving the people. The local pastor was the "go to" person that helped the process to go smoothly.
The dental team had 3 portable units that would allow fillings or extractions to be done. The medical team had doctors and nurses to diagnose and volunteers to dispense much need medications. Clothing and personal items were distributed to those in need. All together over 2000 patients were treated during the five mission days.
Nothing could have been more rewarding than taking a child out of pain, keeping a wage earner healthy and productive, knowing that each day lives were being changed and improved. The people were gracious and thankful for everything they were provided. Their smiles were contagious and in spite of their poverty, they are the most kind and caring people you could imagine.
Corner of Love.org is a Christian organization that serves impoverished people in North Nicaragua. Their work is focused in two areas: Clean Water and Healthcare. They help villages to drill wells, pipe clean water into schools, churches, and other sharing points, and carry out all kinds of water improvement projects. They lead medical and dental care teams and People to People missions to San Ramon and more than 45 villages that surround it. COL headquarters is in Maple Valley, WA and have operating chapters in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, Oregon, Bermuda, Canada, Japan, and Switzerland.