Throughout the time on the Rio Coco, my thoughts were often on “the story” that would tell how a person’s life would be forever changed due to this surgical mission. It was the very last day on the river that the perfect individual arrived on the scene. It was Santos…a 36 year old…from a community within Penas Blancas…an area that’s part of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve in Nicaragua. He had walked to the village of Par Par (our last stop) and had waited a day or so for us to pick him up. During the first two days of being together, I checked on him often and slowly began to earn his trust. The morning of his surgery, using an interpreter, he agreed to tell us his story.
As a small child I knew I was different from others…and people would often laugh at me. I didn’t go to school for that reason, so today I cannot read or write. I did have an opportunity to have surgery when I was very young, but my father died and I had to move in with my uncle. There was no money to pay for the surgery. Even years later there was an opportunity, but there was never enough money. Then just recently, I learned through the local clinic that a boat would take me if I wanted to have surgery. I am very comfortable and confident about having the surgery and I’m very thankful to have this opportunity.
Santos is married and has three children…a son and two daughters…the oldest being six years old. He provides for his family using his uncles’s land to grow beans and corn. He doesn’t have any animals to tend to, but uses his machete to clear the land and work the fields. Until this trip he had never been anywhere outside of his community. His cousin accompanied him, leaving his wife and children for over a week to make this journey and have his surgery. When we asked what would be the first thing he’ll do when he returns home…I want to take good care of my surgery.
His surgery was very successful and was made even better by two dentists that came along with Dr. Retson and his team. This was Santos just a day after his surgery and already we could see what a huge difference the surgery had made, even with all the swelling.
Another 24 hours…the day of departure…
…a life forever changed.
photo courtesy of Healing, Health, and Hope
The ultimate would be to return one day to locate Santos and his family and see how he’s getting along…perhaps a future visit? As I mentioned in my previous posting, it takes the amazing work of Esperanca, Healing, Health, and Hope and of course all the donations from people like you and me to make this all possbile. How fortunate we all are to be a part of it!