Guest Glahgger

While I’m hanging around here at the landfill whining about rusty old vee-hickles and crusty old shower heads and moldy old carpets, it’s good to know that some people are actually working on making the world a better place. My cousin Aimée, aka Uber Kayak Woman, is in the middle of an *intense* accelerated nursing program for people with other kinds of degrees. Oh, by the way, she is my age. Last winter, she traveled to Africa for two months and, almost immediately upon her return, packed up and drove across the country from her home on Lopez Island, in the northwest, to Portland, Maine, to begin her nursing program. Are you tired yet? Anyway, she has asked if I would publish a letter that she submitted to the weekly newspaper back on Lopez about a trip she’ll be taking to the Dominican Republic this winter as part of a health care team. Yes, she’s asking for donations. If you can send something, this is as good a cause as any. I’ll shut up now. She explains it all better than I do. The first pic is one she sent by cell phone from a hiking expotition up some *mountain* or something in Maine, the second is on our infamous Pictured Rocks kayak tour. (No, your nose doesn’t look too big! 🙂 grok gork!

Think Locally, Act Globally

aimee.jpgAs a Lopezian temporarily far from home, I do think of Lopez locale and friends often, anticipating my return next fall. I am pursing a fifteen month accelerated nursing degree at University of Southern Maine, partly motivated by an interest in Global Health. My interest in Global Health is driven by a personal connection to Africa, through the traditional music of Zimbabwe, and an interest in doing something to promote world peace. We live in a world that is so interconnected these days, with travel and internet information zig zagging the globe. What happens in one place truly effects another place, no matter how many miles separate them. With health care as a profession and a passion I feel that is where I can make a contribution.

Last spring I got to realize a long held dream of traveling in Africa, in Zimbabwe and Kenya. I visited health care projects in each country. What I have learned is that it is often the small projects that can be most effective in spending donated money directly, without having to fund expensive advertising or administrative overhead costs. The Hope Clinic in Nairobi, supported by Slum Doctor organization based in Bellingham, started in 2004 with enough funds to support one patient on HIV antiretroviral therapy. This patient was a widowed mom with children to take care of. This same clinic has expanded today to the point of serving thousands of people, literally giving them life.

kayaking.jpgAnother aspect of small projects, that is a strong criterion of ongoing success, is working with local leaders, professionals, and organizations to strengthen and support local health care. Thus interweaving support from outside the country with infrastructure and services that already exist there. Nhimbe for Progress, an organization based in Oregon does just that in the rural community of Mhondoro in Zimbabwe. Over seven years they have grown from supporting children in school by paying fees, to building a pre-school, community center, and now a health care center. They also support local businesses, and different individual needs, such as re-building damaged home huts.

This January I have the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic in a USM community health partnership project. This partnership has been offering health clinics twice a year in fifteen small Dominican Republic communities since 1994, based from Lajas de Yaroa, a small rural village on the north side of the island. Rooted in the principle of cooperation, working with the local villagers and health care workers in every step of development, this partnership fulfills that criterion for success. Services provided include nursing, dental care, health maintenance, as well as primary care, treating all ages. More than 15,000 patients have been treated to date, recently at least 2,000 patients per visit. Peace Corps Volunteers are involved assisting interpretation and delivery of culturally competent care. Medicines, supplies, and training are brought to local hospitals. Terri and Roland MacNicol’s daughter Sara, who graduated from the same program I am in, participated in the Dominican Republic USM partnership program last January. She described participating in this partnership as meaningful and pivotal in her nursing education. Donations to this project are spent 100% on medications, including vaccines, fluoride treatments, vitamins, chronic illness medications, treatments for skin diseases and parasites. It can be gratifying to know that every dollar you donate will make a difference to the patients served by this partnership.

If you would like to donate to this project, checks for any amount can be made out to USM, with “DR fund” on the memo line. Donations are fully tax deductible, be sure to specify your name and address for the receipt. Remember that 100% of donations are spent on medications, and any amount is appreciated. These checks can be mailed to Aimée Nassoiy, 16 Walnut St. Apt. #2, Portland ME, 04101. Feel free to email me with questions at

Comments are closed.