Monday, December 6, 2010

San Rafael Cedros

One of the best days in my busy week last week was Thursday, when I drove to San Rafael Cedros - about 45 minutes from Suchitoto - where our medical clinics will be held in February. Iris Alas, the community organizer for the CIS (Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad) in San Rafael Cedros brought together a group of volunteers from different sectors of the community, and we talked about the clinics - who to invite, which sector will come on each day, and how the local volunteers will be involved. The volunteers - mostly women - asked great questions and are looking forward to the clinic week.

San Rafael Cedros is an attractive town just off a main highway, the center for a rural community. At the moment it lacks a church, because the former church was damaged in the 2001 earthquakes, and the remaining facade was recently demolished. I met the parish priest who said he was trying to raise half a million dollars for a new church - that's an enormous sum in El Salvador. We also met with Doctora Valdez de Perdomo at the local health clinic - they are important partners for us, as we always ask for the loan of a doctor and nurse for the week, the doctor to write referrals for patients who need more specialized care and the nurse to handle the paperwork for pap smears in our gynecology clinic. She was happy to offer their help, to loan us a gynecological exam table, and to write a letter of support. We'll get another letter of support from the Alcalde, Dr. Joaquin Molina. He's a general surgeon when not serving as Mayor, very pleased that we're coming to his town. The letters of support go to the Medical Board here, with our packet of information asking for approval of the clinics, and to donors of medications in the United States.

We finished off our day by having lunch at the town's famous restaurant, Doña Virginia's: it's said to be the best fish restaurant in El Salvador, and judging from my delicious lonja empanizada that may well be true. Working in San Rafael Cedros is going to be a joy!

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