On April 4th, long before it was light, Craig Severtson once again headed for Nicaragua, taking with him Nick Weiland, videographer, and Sandy Jerstad, sponsor of the first ever all women health conference put on by the Lutheran Church in Nicaragua. Once in Nicaragua, we met up with friends of Craig, Bill and Dana Glasscock, former Peace Corps workers in Nicaragua, and Pam Bohl and her 14 year old son Jacob Babb.
Our driver, guide, interpreter, protector and great friend, Sergio picked us up and took us to meet Elena, a woman from the U.S. who has lived in Nicaragua since 1982, teaching, building community, fostering education and strength for women, and owns a hostel-like hotel in a forested, tranquil area of Managua. She meets with the softball girls once a month to help them with their self-image and with lessons of life.
Next was a visit to the Softball Academy, located in a rough part of Managua, where we witnessed a practice session. The temperature inside the faciliity was a steamy 100 degrees, where pitchers and hitters had no problem getting warmed up. Two batting cages were set up with old nets and the baseball-loving men were lured into some batting practice. They were doing pretty well until poor Sergio got hit by a pitch.
Coach Jerstad was asked to speak to the girls, and invited to sit in the dugout during their next scheduled games on Sunday.
On day two we headed for Somotillo after spending the night in Chinandega. After an hour’s drive dodging buses, horse-drawn carts, pedestrians, motorcycles and cars, we arrived in Somotillo and Sergio turned off on a rough narrow road which led to the area hosting the first ever women’s health conference. This conference was planned and put on by Bishop Victoria and Assistant Bishop Katia who had plastic chairs for 100 women, and a large canopy to protect them from the searing sun and 108 degree heat.
The 90 women who came were from the 46 different parishes in the Lutheran Church in Nicaragua, and had heard about this conference from their pastors, some of whom attended the conference. Two female gynocologists from Managua traveled three hours to speak to the women all day about different health issues, from violence towards women to breast exams to birth control. Everyone took a break when a nice lunch was catered in for the participants. These women had never had an exam from a doctor, and knew very little about their own health.