Montería, Colombia

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I’m in Colombia again! I’m very happy that I am able to be back here. I loved my last humanitarian trip and I never thought that I’d have the opportunity to come back. I’m here to teach another Neonatal Resuscitation training. We are doing two trainings. One here in Montería and then another in Florencia.

It was a long trip on Saturday from home. We flew to New York and then to Colombia. The trip was about 11-12 hours long plus a 2 hour layover. We arrived in Bogotá at 11:15 PM and then we woke up at 6:30 to leave for the airport to catch our flight to Montería at 9. I was so exhausted.

We arrived in Colombia without any problems. Our hotels are very nice. It’s very hot and humid here in Montería but luckily our hotel has air conditioning! Montería is near the Caribbean coast and has a lot of palm trees. It’s very green and beautiful. The city is similar to the cities that we visited last time.

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On Sunday afternoon, we went to eat lunch at a local park by the Sinú River. It was very green and lush. I ate a steak and some fried plantains with sour cream. This part of Colombia is known for it’s steak. While we were eating, giant iguanas were running around us and one even jumped up on Dr. Kartchner to try to get his food. It was crazy! It was about 4 feet long! It took him by complete surprise. It was so funny. I was too shocked to pull out the camera and there was no way that I was going to touch it. He stood up to try to get it off but it just hung on to him like he was a tree and it kept clawing at his food. When we were walking back to the hotel, we saw 5 or 6 big monkeys hanging out in a tree. They were swinging around and jumping from branch to branch. It was so cool. I felt like I was walking through a zoo. One was hanging right over my head.

On Monday, we had our first day of teaching the two-day course here in Montería. We taught at the LDS church. It is beautiful and just got finished 6 months ago. It had beautiful tall ceilings. The members of the stake presidency and some members of the relief society were there helping us for both of the days. They are so warm and loving. I love the Colombians so much. They greet everyone with a big hug and a kiss on a cheek. They just are so fun and kind. It’s so special to have the opportunity to serve the people of Colombia. They just become your instant best friends.

The course went well. About 40 doctors and nurses came to the two-day training in Monteria. They were so grateful for the training and the equipment that we donated. They have such a great need for this training because in their hospitals and clinics they have no algorithm that they follow for neonatal resuscitation. They haven’t even received any previous training on neonatal resuscitation and they lack basic resources like monitors and oximetry. They have a very high infant mortality rate. It’s rare for women to get prenatal care. Many of the moms that are giving birth are only 12 yers old or even younger! If a baby is born outside of the hospital, it takes a very long time for an ambulance to arrive.

The nurses in Monteria take care of 7-22 patients and they only get paid $400 per month to work 50-60 hour weeks. All of the training attendees said that they were so grateful to have some knowledge about what to do in a newborn resuscitation. They were so anxious to learn and they really did very well by the end of the course. I got really close to my group. They were very fun and excited to learn. They all wanted to take pictures with me and talk with me about the church and about nursing in the United States.

The stake president in Montería is only 31 years old and he’s already been the stake president for 5 years! So young. He was amazing. I love them members of my church in Colombia. For them, (and for me) the church is so important in their lives. They love to serve and help others. I love that in all of Colombia and South America, God plays an important part in each persons life, no matter what their religion. They especially love Jesus Christ so much. I respect and admire their devotion to God and their love for Him.

I noticed that all of the children that I met in Colombia are very respectful and well-mannered. They are so beautiful and if Matt and I ever adopt a child, I hope that he or she can be from South America.

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