Some have been confused as to where we are in relation to Managua or the clinic. Managua (a city with no center, no downtown and no tall buildings) is about 6 miles away. 6 long, bumpy on a dirt road through barrios and between cattle herds, miles down the road. We can get there by bus (the 115) which costs c$4 (about a quarter) and takes about 30 minutes to get to a main bus stop (called Las Piedracitas) where you can pick up another bus (buses in the city only cost c$2.50) or a taxi (which going anywhere in the city will usually be under c$90). We are technically located in Ciudad Sandino, a kind of suburb of Manauga. Ciudad Sandino is to the north west of Managua. Many taxis won’t go there and it has high crime and lots of poverty. The government operates on about $2 per person every year. In Ciudad Sandino there are many barrios (neighborhoods) some better than others. We really don’t have a barrio just because we are our own little fortress. We are across the street from a relatively new barrio called Villa Soberana.
Villa Soberana is to the south of Ciudad Sandino. It is interesting because it was built with money from other countries (I believe this barrio was funded by the European Union) and is very nice. The barrio was built as a not-for-profit neighborhood for civil servants. The residents of Villa Soberana are police, teachers, sanitation workers, etc. The houses were heavily subsisdized so these people can acutally afford their own home. The streets are clean, the houses well maintained and it is really nice to walk through the streets. We are just south of this barrio. If you keep heading west down the street that runs if front of JHC away from Managua, and away from Villa Soberana you come to Santo Eduviges. This is a for-profit barrio. The houses and streets are not as clean and there is higher rates of unemployment.
Further down the street, past the zona franca (free trade zone – large construction of a HUGE warehouse/sweatshop that is just seconds from JHC) you come to Nueva Vida. Nueva Vida is POOR. The streets are dusty dirt with deep ridges carved into parts from water and wind erosion. Some houses have the “modern” concrete construction. Some are just scrap metal tied together and assigned the task of being a wall or a roof. The dogs are starving and sleeping in the streets. You have to honk a few times to get their attention. The clinic is located here. Just down the main road a bit, past the field of flor de jamaica that Rogelio loves to talk about, but hates the taste of because “it tastes like herbs”. Past the Baptist school and church and just past the community open air empty community area. Take a left on the alley just past the turqouise building. Travel on down the road past the Catholic center on the right and the elementary school on the left. Don’t make eye contact with the drug dealers on the corner, but make a right on the first road. The first house is Conchita’s and on down the road a little bit is the clinic. It has a gate that is always locked that we have a key to.
The clinic is open 8a-5p Monday – Friday. Here people can be seen by doctors, and soon they can have dental work and herbal medicine. The health clinic isn’t free. I know I always talk about the free health clinic, but it isn’t free. When JHC was talking with the community about the clinic, the community said DO NOT MAKE IT FREE, So here is the deal. When you come to the clinic, you pay c$30 to see a doctor. If the doctor says you need medicine you go to the pharmacy (located next to exam room #2) and you get your free medicine. If the doctor needs to see you for a follow up visit, this is covered by your initial payment. For as long as you are seeing the doctor for the same ailment, the fees are covered. If you cannot afford the c$30 (about US$2) then you can work a half day at the clinic, washing the windows, sweeping the floors, hopefully soon weeding the garden, and you get a coupon for a doctors visit. Anyone in your family can work for the coupon and you can work even if you don’t need a coupon right then. This way, the people feel as though they are helping maintain the facility and the clinic. It really works out.