An open letter to SOMOS and MANOS seniors, May 2014

An open letter to SOMOS and MANOS seniors, May 2014

I make my living with words and, most times, I’m able to say something close to what I’m thinking and feeling. I am rarely at a loss for words, even if they’re not the right ones. Each year, however, I find myself inadequate even in this regard as some of you, ignoring my best advice,

Newbies step up

The MANOS students had reason for concerns about language proficiency and depth for the annual project trip.  Two of our most talented and experienced teammates would not make the trip.  Lester Chavez ’14 (8 trips) and Kristina Ripley ’15 (2 trips), both native Spanish speakers and both deeply knowledgeable about our research, methods, and theory, were missed for

Chaguite, Cuje, Clinic

We have worried about the value of our annual clinic since we first opened the doors in 2007.  We intended NOT to be a duffle-bag medicine project—arriving with U.S.-based notions about what our patients might need and dropping off short-dated medicines in small quantities.  Eight years later, we’re still trying to find ways to make

It’s Not Linear; 2/28/14

In November 0f 2009, I wrote that SHC was becoming MANOS and that the timing seemed more than incidental.  (And, it happened even before Chrissy Sherman joined the team.)  It seemed clear to me then that the project was evolving from the “service learning” group of 2006 and was finding its way.  The new name,

Persistence and Partnering. 2/27/14

The MANOS advance team (Johnathan Maza ’15; 5th project trip); Stephanie Wraith ’15, fourth project trip; Sarah Martin ’17, 1st project trip; and me, 8th project trip) met with Dr. Benito Blanco, Medical Director of the MINSA clinic in Totogalpa, Nicaragua.  We summarized our medical and community efforts over the past seven years in Cuje

B-team arrives; clinics underway

B-team arrived on schedule, and as predicted, silliness ensued. It is a measure of their engagement that the later arrivers could not wait for a full briefing on the A-team’s accomplishments. The promise of a full disclosure at the team meeting (around 11pm) was not sufficient to defer questions (bordering on inquisition). I savor this

Senior Week

It’s 8:30 pm. The advance team has been busy since eight this morning, when we left the hostel. Chrissy Sherman has arranged the agenda, which includes visits to Chaguite homes to ensure that they know about the clinic and the community meeting that is scheduled for Monday; visits to the homes of brigadistas (community health

Another newbie meets Cuje

Introducing a new team member to the region and community is always interesting. It is one thing to communicate the approach, the core concepts and theory, the methods, and the accumulated understandings from six years of work in Cuje and Chaquite. It is quite another to describe the look, feel, and only partially grasped character

SOMOS/DASV 13: The Spirit is Willing

I wish I could bottle it – that synergy that comes from hard work, dedication, diverse training and skills; that instantiation of hope that is the project week for SOMOS and DASV. DASV: Dominican Aid Society of Virginia, a small non-profit with five officers and volunteer medical professionals who give graciously their time and talents. And,


It may be that blogs have gone the way of postcards. Again, I have been a poor correspondent and note that I wrote last in March — during the annual MANOS project trip. The SOMOS advance team is in the Dominican Republic as I write; the full team arrives on Saturday. At the same time,