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A year has gone by

February 28, 2007

Paul Jacquay - Paraguay

A year has gone by. So much has been learned, but so much more to learn. 

We spent most of the month of January at Camp Jack Norment with the various groups of the church.  We were able to compare with last years experience and realize the changes that have occurred.  While being able to speak Spanish has obviously improved, we're still not able to communicate fluently.  It was good to see and visit with people that we hadn't seen for the past year, and it was good to be able to spend some quality time with people that we've gotten to know in the course of work or church activities.

My main project, MAESTRA, the Friendship Mission clinic outreach program, has been active since October 25 and continues to struggle. The best part about this so far is that we have a group of  professionals, two doctors, the administrator, one nurse, a social worker, and me, along with community members, working together with the belief that this is a valuable service and the commitment to make it so.  We started in Luque at the Disciples Church. The first clinic we saw 26 patients, since then the numbers have not been as good, some afternoons with only 5 or 6. Pastor Roberto suggested that there are people in the community of other religions that may be inhibited from seeking service in this church building, so we tried moving the clinic on alternating Wednesdays to a neighboring barrio. This did bring in a wider variety of patients, but the numbers remained low. We continued to analyze this wondering if our prices were too high, but at 2000 guaranies (about 40 cents) for an office visit, everyone agreed that this is not a barrier. We then decided that the people of the community just do not know about us.  So we utilized Marianne's computer skills and made a small flier to distribute in the neighborhood.  The next clinic the numbers were up with 12 people coming for service! We tried the same strategy in Arroyos y Esteros. The first week we distributed pamphlets ourselves after clinic hours. I drove and the nurse and social worker went to homes and stores. The next week numbers were up. But after this clinic we gave pamphlets to a young girl from the church who volunteered to distribute the fliers. The next week (which is this week) the numbers were not as good. Conclusion...we need to distribute the fliers ourselves.  Let the community see who we are. Also this week in Arroyos y Esteros we went to the local radio station and were interviewed on the air about the project. Luckily for me I have a supervisor who likes to talk. I only had to introduce myself and agree with what she said. Next week we will learn more about this form of advertisement when we see how many patients present themselves for our service. We continue to work together, to analyze, to try new approaches, and to grow and learn how to make this project successful. 

So far Marianne and I have visited 10 of the 11 Disciples of Christ churches in Paraguay.  Each church has its own unique character and the services vary accordingly. We've experienced the sedate service at the Barrio Herrera Iglesia with no musical instruments and just a few songs, the more traditional services at Iglesia Peru and Mision de Amistad with guitars and pianos accompanying the music, and the lively evangelistic style at Luque and Barrio Colon with electric guitars and keyboards and huge loudspeakers. But the people remain the, friendly, and accepting of Marianne and me.

Marianne is in the middle of summer vacation and is enjoying her free time. She is working at improving her Spanish skills with a goal of being able to do parent-teacher conferences without the aid of an interpreter. She also has been working at organizing a more efficient system for the English teaching program at Friendship Mission At this point in time Marianne IS the English teaching program, having taught classes to children and adolescents every Tuesday and Thursday evening, and adults on Saturday morning. But Rosa Lina, the director of Friendship Mission, wants to up-grade the program so that it is recognized by the government and certificates can be awarded depending on ability. She has an interview scheduled with the Minister of Education and will be presenting Marianne's plans for approval to achieve this goal. If she is successful and the program is well accepted I will be helping Marianne with teaching English.

The "mission" for which we came to Paraguay is taking shape. We continue to meet new and interesting people, to work side by side, to learn, and to grow in the Holy Spirit.

Paul Jacquay
Paul Jacquay serves as a long term volunteer at Mision de Amistad (Friendship Mission) in Paraguay.  Paul works as health consultant for the medical department and is a nurse trainer at the Mision de Amistad School of Nursing.

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