Milagros

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

sunmoon

February 17, 2010: Miracles do happen.

Virginia is a 32 year-old woman with three children. She’s been deaf for her entire life. Over time she learned to read lips. However, the limits of reading lips meant she couldn’t hear her baby crying in another room. She spent her life finding ways to deal with her limitations. Fortunately, she had a husband who loved her unconditionally. Still, she always hoped that there might come a day when she could hear. That day was today. Continue reading “Milagros”

Una gota de agua

By Rich Lopez
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February 16, 2010: Yesterday was a dichotomy between treating patients is horrible conditions and the pomp of speeches and ceremonies. Both are important, but the day presented the Clinic team with many challenges. The temperature fell to the low 50’s and the blustery wind created a bone chilling environment. The Clinic patients sit in school chairs outside, usually under the shade of large tents to protect them from the sun or rain. Patients were ill-prepared for the cold and arrived with sweaters or light jackets at best. This is Mante remember. It is rarely cold, but yesterday was different. Patients shivered quietly waiting their turn to speak to a doctor. The triage team filled out the patient information forms, translating from Spanish to English. Elderly patients shivered uncontrollably. When it came time to take their blood pressure, they were asked to remove their jackets. Continue reading “Una gota de agua”

Maestros, Muralistas y Artistas

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

February 15, 2010: One of the most significant benefits of a sister cities relationship is the cultural exchanges that can emerge. The Dairy Center Mural by Florian Lopez was a gift from Mante. Florian is a “muralista” whose talents were recognized at an early age. Florian’s uncle brought him to the opening of the Ramon Cano Gallery in 1973. Florian showed examples of this work to the then curator of the gallery, Lucio Tenorio. Lucio himself was a celebrated muralist, who saw potential in Florian. Although many young artists brought examples of their work to Tenorio in hope that they would be allowed to apprentice with the master, only Florian was chosen. He spent the next seven years studying with Tenorio, growing his skill and learning the dicipline it takes to be a muralist. “First you must read before you paint.” In other words, you must know the subject matter and message before you can depict it. The paintings above were created from memory by Tenorio and capture the beauty of the daily life he experienced as a child harvesting sugar cane. These two paintings hang in the mayors office, a gift to the City. We were taken to a local elementary school where another of Tenorio’s mural graces the computuer lab. He spent time explaining his symbolism and use of colors. Continue reading “Maestros, Muralistas y Artistas”

Mole, Arroz y Tortillas (To Eat or Not to Eat?)

By Rich Lopez
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February 14, 2010: “You are what you eat.” Many of us have heard this expression and it is true in Boulder and in Mante. That is why Elizabeth, a dietician, is an important resource at the Clinic. During intake, we hear similar stories about intestinal problems, high blood pressure and diabetes. Many of these ailments can be controlled by diet. This year Elizabeth has many props to help deliver her messages. Test tubes are filled with sugar that represents the amount of sugar in a Coke. Other test tubes illustrate the amount of lard contained in corn tortillas. These graphic illustrations are effective as you see the patients’ eyes widen in surprise. Tortillas are eaten with most meals and the challenge is to encourage patieints to reduce their intake from 6 per meal to 2.

Dietician

Sunday at the Clinic sees lower volumes of patients. This is expected, but it gave us a chance to enjoy a Sunday afternoon meal with Petra, a Mante teacher who spent one year teaching science at Angeline Middle School in Lafayette. When we arrive at Petra’s we learn that she lives in a small family compound with three houses, all occupied by family members. In the center of the compound is a large shaded patio with comfortable chairs. This makes sense because Mante’s summer are extremely hot and humid. (There is a local joke that “when a person from Mante dies and goes to Hell, they ask the Devil for a blanket.”)

There is an outdoor kitchen and nearby is a large ceramic bowl of “chicken mole” simmering over an open fire. Soon, nieces, nephews, in-laws and grandchildren arrive and before long, there are 25 people representing four generations. This is a Mexican style nuclear family. After everyone is settled down “almuerzo” begins. Mole, rice and conversation. Petra’s family includes educators, a med student, TV/video producer and other professionals. Her mother is the matriarch and all activities seem to be coordinated around her. It’s very comforting to be there with her family. PS, I only ate two tortillas.

MoleAbuelita

Temas de Corazon (Themes of the Heart)

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

Novios
Novios

February 13, 2010: Tomorrow is Valentines Day, the day of love and lovers. Although Valentines Day originated in the US, its popularity knows no bounds. This day is alive and well in Mante.

On Saturday, the Clinic opened for patients on a sunny day. Most of the Coloradans basked under the warm sun. Busy doesn’t quite describe the morning. Hundreds of patients, young and old were waiting to see a doctor, PA or nurse. Some had waited a year to see a doctor. Others hadn’t seen a doctor in years. Some of their ailments are visible, like the man with a growth the size of an egg on his ear or the woman with the yellow ocher skin.

Intake is an importat part of the process. At the Clinic “medical”translators don’t exist, but soon our translators are identifying ailments, medicines and organs. Some of the patients are nervous, others stoic and some entertaining. For example, a short elderly man started his intake by flirting with Susan. When she replied with a “Mi Amor” the comedy began. We were chucklng by the time he left to see his doctor.

Today the surgeons examined the patients and scheduled surgeries for the rest of the week. Sarvjit an ENT surgeon from Loveland is back again (“gotta pay my rent for being on the planet!”). He examined a young boy with a tumor inside his ear. A “cat scan”is needed. This is an expensive procedure and approval from the DIF (department of social services) is required. The fear is that the tumor might be malignant. So his mother is weeping quietly while someone comforts her. Tomorrow, the boy will be examined more closely while he’s under general anesthesia. If the tumor looks malignant the boy’s scan will be scheduled for Monday. Then, more decisions and posibly more tears.

Adult Intake

Sunday the surgeries begin. The teams are prepared, the instruments in place and the patients scheduled. Tonight, there will be prayers, candles will be lit and tomorrow lives will be changed.

Daily Camera LTE – Mission to Mante: Building a cultural bridge

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

At time when U.S. health care has been the topic of newspapers across the country, there is another activity that continues quietly. This year marks the 20th time that physicians, nurses, technicians and volunteers travel to Mante, Mexico, at their own expense, to provide free medical care to poor and unemployed citizens. Last year the team, lead by Mike Moran from Boulder Community Hospital, saw 5,000 clinic patients; performed 257 eye surgeries and 263 surgical procedures. The team received more “thanks” in a week than anyone could imagine.

In 2000, I had the honor of traveling to Mante to sign the Boulder Mante Sister Cities proclamation. Over time, student and teacher exchanges grew from the relationship. Today, a retired Boulder fire truck still protects citizens in Mante thanks to the generosity of the late Tom Eldridge. The mural that graces the north wall of The Dairy Center was a gift from Mante, painted by Florian Lopez.

This year, Jeannie DeMarinis assembled an art show that will travel to Mante to be displayed in the Ramon Cano Gallery. The show will include paintings of the Boulder area, artistic kites by Airworks and Elizabeth Black`s Ditch Project slide show. Mante citizens will be able to visit Boulder through its artists. We`re building more cultural bridges.

The city of Boulder has declared the week of Feb. 12-20 as Boulder Mante Week. We invite everyone to follow the activities this year by visiting http://missiontomante.pmpblogs.com or http://boulder-mante.org.

Read more: Letters to the Editor – Feb. 9 – Boulder Daily Camera

Hangin in Mante

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

Florian kiteYuki Mikle

February 12, 2010: Team members gather in the lobby of the Hotel Monterey for coffee, jugo and conversation. The first day of unpacking the supply trailer and warehouse we well. Today the hospital and clinic teams will clean and arrange table, tools, and supplies in preparation for the first day seeing patients, Saturday.

It’s a beautiful day, sunshine warm, unlike yesterday that found us flying through rainstorms from Houston to Tampico. Volunteers are the key to efforts like the medical mission. People become inspired by the work and come forward. A man, Gary, is a Mante native who spent 5 years in the US. He speaks English and wants his daughter to practice her English. So both have volunteered. Gary has a pickup and I asked him to drive us to the Gallery with the traveling “art show.

Lamya Deeb

We arrive at the Ramon Cano Gallery and find Florian in an empty room. That’s about to change. First we assemble the kites. Florian and his assistants are amazed with the “comet” kite. Eyes widen as the “comet’s tail” is unfurled. Next comes the bird kite. It too brings grins. Soon they are suspended from the ceilings.

We need to frame a few more paintings. Florian asked the municipal carpenter to build the frames, they’re beautiful. As we are arranging the paintings, we catch up on important matters. Florian’s two sons are now married. They are both engineers living in one of the larger cities. Their daughter is 14 and like many young teenagers, spends a lot of time in front of the mirror. His wife, a multi-talented artist herself, is now writing. Florian has painted some fascinating murals since The Dairy Center mural.

The Ramon Cano Gallery was the first municipal gallery in the state. It opened July 1972. The first show included art from, Frieda Kahlo, Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Ramon Cano, and Lucio Tenorio. The show ran for a year. Our Boulder artists are hanging on the walls of greats.

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

La CometaFebruary 11, 2010: Travel is demanding. It looks like the “art show” will fit in our bags. The kites are another matter. Now to add some background music, Peter Kater (former Boulderite) and Cirque de Soleil (international), should do the trick.Pajaro del Cielo

Traveling through security with a long bag of kites proved to be daunting, but not impossible. At first the TSA officials couldn’t decide if the bag of kites could be carried onto the plane. Finally, they said give it a try. It worked.

Houston: a couple of hours later we sat down with a couple of team members from Fort Collins. Cozane is a surgical nurse coming to Mante for the second time. I asked her why she pays for her ticket to come to Mante and work really hard for a week. “ It’s the people who amaze me. They wait quietly for hours to see a surgeon, then go through a surgical procedure and sometimes walk out of the hospital a few hours later and go home. They never complain.” David is a pharmacist who works for a commercial drug store. His response was similar. “I know these people are nervous and I speak Spanish to them and try to calm their fears. ”

Everyone is excited anticipating the start of the medical mission. The Advance Team has unpacked boxes and boxes of supplies. Friday, they will finish setting up the Clinic and Operating Rooms. Jeannie and I will set up an Art Show and hang a couple of kites. We’re excited too.

The Mission starts today

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

mantemural1

February 10, 2010: The Boulder Community Hospital Mante Medical Mission starts today. The first teams flies to Tampico Mexico this morning. We fly in mulitple groups because the Tampico airport cannot accomodate large jets. This transit bottleneck is a minor challenge, but means some team members will spend a few extra hours getting to know the George Bush International Airport. Once we arrive in Tampico, we gather our bags and go through customs. Then it’s time for a bus ride to Mante. Typically, we arrive late in the evening at the town square. There we meet our host families who will house and feed us for the next week. This is where the friendships are established or rekindled. Some of us will stay at one of two hotels, the Monterey or Hotel Mante.

The Mante mural symbolizes the relationships between Boulder. The flags and eagles of both countries provide the backdrop to the natural symbols of each city; Boulder’s Flatirons and Mante’s Nacimiento (a cave where the Mante River is born). The sun and the moon represent the permanence of the relationship. What is special is that transformation of the “stars” on the American flag into “peace doves” traveling to Mante. The doves represent the members of the medical team who travel to Mante to heal and treat their citizens. Check it out on the North wall of The Dairy Center. Makes you tingle.

The medical supplies have either been brought by truck in January or have been in storage since last year’s mission. I’m a little worried because last year, I was in charge of the inventory and packing of 150 boxes from the Medical Clinic. “Rich, what happened to the 8 inch catheters?” “Yo Lopez, where are the 2 inch bandages?” Please let there be 150 boxes!

Bonnie Iris "Tarde de verano"

Bonnie Iris “Tarde de verano”