More than a dozen Syracuse-area parishioners are spending this week in Nicaragua to help combat maternal mortality and support infant health. Since the early 1990's, parishioners have been providing money and supplies to the Health Care Ministry in the in the Villanueva community. Charles Clinton, one of the group’s leaders, notes how important the trip is to the community.
"You would see on the walls of the program center photographs of people from previous trips," Clinton said. "They're in their memories, and definitely in their spirits."
Nicaragua has the highest maternal mortality rate in Central America. But Clinton says since the start of the Ministry’s program 30 years ago, no woman in Villanueva has died in childbirth. This year will mark Clinton’s third trip to the village. Although the trip is pricey, Clinton says the personal connections the parishioners make with the locals cannot be overstated.
"We've said to them, 'it's expensive for us to make this trip. Wouldn't it be better if we took that money for travel and just give it to you, send that down?' They said 'no, it's very important to us that you come down and sustain that relationship.' Continuing the relationship benefits both ends."
Clinton is excited to make the trip this year with his 12-year old son. While his son is eager to play soccer with the local children, Clinton hopes he keeps in mind how lucky he is to live where he does.
"I think for him to realize the great abundance that we have here, and when we get caught up with things like not having the latest phone and things of that nature," Clinton said. "Realizing people live in quite different conditions happily and joyfully. How can we sustain some of that through our disappointments that are really first world problems."
The All Saints/Saint Lucy Group is delivering thermometers, stethoscopes, and backpacks among other things to the Health Care Ministry this week while forming new relationships with people in the community.