International Programs

Molly Liepnieks

Sabana Grande, Nicaragua

This summer I spent time in a rural town near the Nicaragua-Honduran border called Sabana Grande. Before we could get there, our group spent 6 months working to develop educational modules in preparation of conducting workshops in Nicaragua. We worked in four subgroups- education/public health (my group), livestock, poultry and environment.  Each group focused on a different area in which animal, human and environmental health intersect in an effort to develop a One Health project focused on education of community health workers.

It took a car, two planes, two taxis, and a bus to get to Sabana Grande. Our first view was the Solar Restaurant, which is situated right on the side of the Pan American Highway. This open air building was our first introduction to the community and would be a meeting place throughout our stay. It is staffed by Solar Women and located next to the Solar Center where engineering students work on Solar technologies. From the restaurant, Sabana Grande is a 15-20 minute walk on dirt roads. We lugged our gear up the main road, dropping people off at their homestays. Each home was different but there were lots of similarities. Some had electricity, some had running water- all had a family that was ready to let us into their homes. All of the families had animals of some sort- cows, chickens, cats, dogs, pigs and horses. Some had few animals, some had many. From our first introduction, it was easy to see how intertwined human and animals are in the community.

Sabana Grande was more spread out than I was expecting. We did a lot of walking. It is made up of two smaller areas- La Frayle and Palmera- that are separated by fields where we saw cattle being used to plow. When we first arrived, the fields were just beginning to be worked.

We spent the week working with local human and animal healthcare workers who volunteer in the community. Between our workshops and the things that Mayra and Hilario wanted to show us, our schedule filled up fast. Talking to them, it was clear that not only were they proud of the work that they have been doing but that they were excited for us to be present in the community.

We conducted two days of workshops and it was wonderful to see how engaged the human and animal health care workers were. Additionally, I was able to attend surveys, run fecal samples and attend events within the community.

I feel lucky to have been able to meet and be welcomed by the community in Sabana Grande. I look forward to continuing to developing and expanding our One Health project.

Molly Liepnieks' trip presentation (pdf.)

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