by Susan Dix Lyons
Joselin turned 13, and I know she’s in a danger zone. There may as well be sirens blaring, lights flashing. There are obstacles to avoid with every turn. During the day, she sells corn in the husk by the side of the road, hoping to catch the eyes of hungry truckers. Everything around her moves but her own life.
Joselin lives in Nicaragua, which has the highest rate of adolescent pregnancies in Latin America. Nearly half of women in Nicaragua give birth before the age of 20 and one-fourth of all births are to teen mothers.
I think of Joselin and look at my son, also 13, studying trigonometry, practicing piano. I think of Joselin’s shoeless feet and unchanging days and wonder how I can convince others that she matters.
Every year, 13 million babies are born to adolescents worldwide. There are a thousand studies and statistics that attempt to explain the significance of such a thing. But the numbers don’t grab me. This is what does:
A 13-year-old girl living in a crowded hut she shares with four siblings, her mother and whatever man shows up at dark. There is one narrow bed above the dirt floor and a hammock stretched between strips of timber where the youngest sleeps. The rest of the children sleep on the packed earth, with maybe a stray kitten or a chick, but no cover.
The girl tried to go to school, but she was behind. When she read aloud, the other kids laughed. She felt so dumb. But her mother needed her to work to help feed the family.
She knows how to work. All she has to do is stand there and hold up her basket. Sometimes men drive by and beep their horns or make comments that make her feel pretty. Somehow, that gives her a sense of hope when everything else feels the same – hard and empty, like her stomach at night.
Joselin is 13 years old and sells corn on the side of the road. Tonight, while our sons and daughters eat pizza or watch a movie, she’ll curl on the ground next to her brothers and sister and dream of nothing but sleep. And then, she’ll wake up and make her way to the road, where she will pray that someone sees her.
By CV Project Manager Johny Siman
We have officially started the construction of Clinica Verde. This is the moment we have all been waiting for – where everybody’s hard work starts paying off as we begin to see the clinic coming to life.
I’m sure there will be many obstacles to overcome on the 10-month road to finish the construction, but I am also very confident we will overcome them and complete the building for Clinica Verde.
We have hired the services of Maestro Miguel Zapata, who has 45 years on-the-job experience and has worked with the top architects in Nicaragua, including Alfredo Osorio, Roberto Sampson, Gabriel Urcuyo, and the renowned Ronald Zurcher of Costa Rica.
The list of projects that Maestro Zapata has worked on is very long, but they include the remodeling of the Government House and Congress after the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake, all of the construction for Banco Mercantil, the Pops buildings and shopping centers, and the homes of many businessmen and politicians. We are confident that Maestro Zapata will supervise the construction of our environmentally sustainable health clinic for women and children living in poverty with great responsibility and attention.
If all goes according to schedule, Clinica Verde will be ready to administer loving quality healthcare to the less fortunate people of the Boaco area of Nicaragua by the end of this year. Thank you for believing and supporting this wonderful work.
Got back last week from our annual meeting of the board in Granada. It was a great, productive trip. We’ve pushed back our date to begin construction from November to January to give us time to make some design changes before going out to bid, but we’re moving forward. A January start date means, if all goes well, the clinic should be completed by October of 2011. It will be a year of hard work!
We also voted to add a new member to our Board of Directors: Dennis de Vreede of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Dennis is the CFO of an international real estate development company called REDEVCO. He’ll be helping to keep our financials tight and heading up development in Europe. He’s a great guy, and we’re thrilled to have him on the team.
Have a great Thanksgiving! I’ll end with this quote I stumbled upon:
“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of thanksgiving.”
On Nov. 13, Clinica Verde holds its third annual meeting of the board in Granada, Nicaragua. Attending will be our complete board of directors, and many of their spouses, representing three continents. We’ll review our progress in the past year and our strategy for the coming year, meet in committees to discuss and brainstorm the challenges ahead, visit our land site, convene with leaders in the community where Clinica Verde will operate, and spend some time with the children and families who remind us why all of our hard work matters.
No doubt there is a lot of hard work ahead. Refining the clinic design itself is important detail work – making sure that we’ve thought through well the particular uses, cultural considerations and possibilities for sustainable technologies. We want to progress at a steady forward pace, while not overlooking elements that will improve the function and ambiance of the clinic. The medical committee is delving deeper into the work of staffing, administration and operation. And we continue to put effort behind getting the word out about our exciting work and garnering support around the world.
But also at our meeting, we’ll be acknowledging all of you – the people who have made Clinica Verde happen. Each one of you is vital to this project. You will be forever linked to the good work of bringing health and hope to women and children in need. You were willing to take a chance on something big because you care about others in the world. And I think that makes each of you pretty cool and amazing. So, thank you for helping us get to where we are. We hope you stay with us on this incredible journey for many years to come.