The Island of Ometepe is located in the big lake of Nicaragua. It is formed by two volcanoes; Concepcion (4430 ft. above sea level) and Maderas (3,833 ft. above sea level). The two volcanoes make the island look quite majestic. The name Ometepe comes from the Nahuatil words “Ome” which means two and “tepeti” which means mountains, meaning two mountains, and is pronounced “Oh-mey-tep-ay”. The island has an area of 276 km. and a population of approximately 35,000.
Dr. Sandra Caldera works on the island Monday through Thursday traveling each day into a different area of the island. People in need of medical attention walk kilometers to her clinics to receive medical help. She practices both as a physician distributing pharmaceuticals and also practicing in natural medicine giving advice and distributing herbal remedies. She also prays for each patient she sees. She receives medicines from the Mennonite church and also from SIFT(Seed International Fund Trust). Because the needs are much greater than the supply, and Dr. Sandra says she is relying more and more on herbal remedies and sometimes solely on prayer.
I went to visit Dr. Sandra on the island in June, with my friend Trish Lewis-Breen from Tampa, Florida. I went because am very interested in understanding how to use Natural Medicine in impoverished areas. Sandra and I are discussing how to put together a simple education program to help people become more aware of what ailments they can and can not treat with herbs and spices they can purchase at the market or grow in their back yard.
We saw the needs of the people on the island. Many of the children and adults are suffering from lack of nutrition and lack of food. The island people are almost entirely dependent upon the produce of plantains. They have a saying, “when we have plantains, we have money for food, when we don’t… we don’t”. I watched Dr. Sandra give a physical to an extremely malnourished 2 year old (in the photo next to this paragraph) and then try to figure out what she could do to help him. We dug around in what little she had in the pharmacy, found some protein powder and milk powder, but we both knew as she handed the items to the mother, that neither of these items would solve this child’s problem. Sandra explained to me that she sees children in this same situation frequently. She has a vision to help mothers raise up small businesses and also to start feeding centers in two of the most impoverished areas she works in.
I came home and prayed that God would show me what I could do to help Dr. Sandra and my friend Trish also prayed. Miraculously, $2250 was given to me as a donation 4 days later, and I had yet to tell anyone I was looking for funds. I was able to give $2500 to Dr. Sandra so she could start her small business loans. She is working on getting 10 to 12 ladies started with small businesses. The loans are with out interest and are paid back over a period of time, in such a way that is manageable with the work they will be doing. The money returned can be used to help other ladies start working in the future. Sandra said that she’s been praying for quite some time for help to start her projects, and we both feel that this was a direct answer from God for her prayers.
Since my visit, Dr. Sandra has started feeding children in both the areas she desires to have a feeding center. She is using funds out of her own meager salary to feed the kids and is able to give them food one day a week. She is making sure they get vitamins and learn the importance of brushing their teeth each time she is there to feed them. She is happy and grateful that God is supplying enough funds for her to do this on her own.
Trish and I are still praying and trying to raise funds for two feeding centers on the Island. We would like to see her enable the pastor’s wives in each area to feed the needy children 3 times a week, instead of Dr. Sandra doing it herself once a week. We need $300 a month for each feeding center, so we’re looking for $600 a month for two.
Please consider prayerfully, if God is asking you to be apart of what Sandra Caldera is trying to do to help the people on the island of Ometepe. We can use one time donations for more small business loans and we also need monthly commitments for the feeding centers. More info is on the Welcome Page.
Ometepe, Nicaragua - The Island