JustHope News

The Intern Experience: Emily W.


Each summer, medical students from all over the United States decide to spend a week using their new medical knowledge to help clinics in rural areas of Chacraseca, Nicaragua. There are many medical teams that partner with JustHope, bringing physicians and medical students from different medical schools and health care supplies to the underserved people of Chacraseca who would otherwise struggle to access medical care.

I am a sophomore undergraduate student studying pre-health and I have been shadowing health professionals in different medical fields. This summer, I was able to participate with several of JustHope's medical teams, working in clinics that were unlike any health care setting I have ever witnessed in the US. Each morning we travelled to a different sector of Chacraseca to set up a clinic in a school or community member's home. As we bumped along dirt roads meant for ox-carts not vans, giant volcanos smoked in the distance, arriving to find that our patients had already begun to line up for health care that was so rarely available to them. We set up a few tables for the doctors, figured out the most efficient system of doing intake for every patient, and hung our pharmacy station from a tree. Medical students were paired up with doctors or stationed at intake or pharmacy and the first patients were called. There was no preparing for the cases we would see or assurance that we would be able to treat everyone, but the group was ready to take on whatever came our way. The medical teams worked long days in hectic clinics, but both the patients and group members always left much happier than when they arrived.
 
JustHope has had a partnership in Chacraseca for 10 years and many of the community members have been involved with the partnership since the beginning. On our last day, our clinic was set up on the home of one of the sector leaders that had been active in JustHope’s work for many years. Before we left, he expressed his gratitude to all of us, telling us we were his angels sent from God and were always welcome in Chacraseca with open arms. This was very impactful on the entire medical team, especially coming from such an involved community leader, because he made it clear how important the continuous work of JustHope has been for the community. During reflections that night, students talked about how his words were one of the most powerful parts of their experiences in Nicaragua.
 
Throughout the week, medical groups develop bonds of mutual respect and appreciation with the people of Chacraseca and benefit just as much from this opportunity and the community as their patients do from the medical care. One of the most amazing parts of this trip for me was hearing the medical students talk about how the work in Chacraseca proved to them that their hard work at school was worth it. Because of this amazing experience, I am now even more motivated to further my education in medicine. I hope to use my new medical knowledge to return to this community for years to come.   

- Emily W., JustHope intern
 

Can you believe it's been 10 years?

transportation

I remember the first time I visited Chacraseca in 1998 - the summer before Hurricane Mitch hit. It was a very different community than it is today. The only buildings in the central area were the church and a little storage room where our groups rolled out our sleeping bags at night. And after Hurricane Mitch hit Chacraseca in October of '98, things got even worse - roads were impassable, schools were unusable, crops were destroyed, and hundreds of the 5,000-6,000 residents of Chacraseca were left to construct small lean-to houses, made of plastic tarps...

 

A Letter from the Board

Dear JustHope Partners and Friends, 

It is with heartfelt appreciation for her years of service that the Board of Directors announces the retirement of Leslie Penrose, founder and Executive Director of JustHope, as of September 1, 2017. Leslie has graciously included all of us in her dreams and vision for partnering with monetarily poor but spiritually rich communities in Nicaragua. We have all been changed by the relationships we’ve built and the progress that we’ve been part of on this journey.  
 
The Board and staff have been studying and preparing for this transition for the past year and a half. Through Leslie’s example and working with our partners in Nicaragua, we have internalized the core values of JustHope: solidarity, sustainability, mutuality, and collaboration. Those values will guide our search for the right individual to lead this organization into the next chapter.

JustHope is the dream of one that has become the vision of many. Together as partners we form a strong shell to nurture and grow the organization in this time of transition. We are positioned to emerge into a new phase of exciting possibilities, but we must all care for and support the vision with our time, talents, and resources.
 
Please celebrate Leslie’s retirement by recommitting yourself to JustHope. We hope you will join us as we honor Leslie’s legacy at this year’s Wine for Water: A Decade of Hope on October 12, 2017!
 
Sincerely,  


Mary Huckabee
President
JustHope Board of Directors
 

A Letter from Leslie...

Dear Friends and Partners in Hope, 

“To think that one small heart can experience so much, oh God, so much suffering and so much love. I am so grateful to You, for having chosen my heart, in these times, to experience all the things it has experienced.” - Etty Hillesum
 
 

This quote captures far better than my own words can, the mixture of profound joy, deep gratitude, and a bit of tender sorrow that I feel as I share with you that as of August 31, I am retiring as the Executive Director of JustHope. As that time approaches, I wanted to personally share the “what’s next” with you – what’s next for me and what’s next for JustHope!
 
But first I both want and need to reflect just a moment…The journey of birthing and nurturing JustHope over the last ten years has been an incredible blessing. I often remark to people that because of both luck and privilege, I am one of a few who has been able to do exactly what I wanted to do in my life and career – THREE TIMES! First as a Youth Director where for ten years I was privileged to share the ‘growing up’ journey with some of the most incredible young people in the world. Second, as the founding pastor of Community of Hope, a journey of life, even into death, and hope that was so holy I still have no words to express it. And finally, as the Founder and Executive Director of JustHope, where I have been entrusted with the honor of accompanying stubborn hope and risky solidarity in the hard work of giving dreams real hands and feet.  Throughout that 40 years and those various ministry settings, Nicaragua has been my place of respite and inspiration; and you have been my partners in hope! So, before anything else, I want to say “thank you!”
 
So, I’m retiring! As of September 1, I will no longer be the Executive Director of JustHope – no more budgets to build or board meetings to attend; no more HR manuals to write or insurance issues to resolve! BUT - don’t be picturing any rocking chairs in my future (well, except for the ones on the Peace House porch!) because, while I AM ready to give up the administrative duties of being Executive Director, I am NOT ready to stop nurturing dreams or fostering hope, and I’m certainly not ready to give up my love of Nicaragua or my connection to JustHope’s mission there. So, knowing that, the Board of Directors, has invited me to explore with them and the new Executive Director --(No, the Board has not completed the Search Process yet) -- what it might look like to live into an unofficial, unsalaried role as “Founder.”   
 
None of that is defined yet…but I expect it will be a “grandmothering” kind of role, where INBETWEEN lots of visits with our grandkids, and some long awaited road trips with Steve, and time to reconnect and share “three cups of tea” (or wine) with old friends, I can work around the edges to explore some new partnerships for JustHope and encourage some new dreamers and donors -- maybe even lead a trip now and then, or plant a tree at the model farm! The future is filled with possibilities, all yet to be discovered.
 
But for now, the critical work of accompanying hope and transforming lives continues. And, therefore, I have one more request to make. JustHope’s future is bright and wide open with possibilities…but it’s also fragile. Transitions are never easy and the transition from Founder to Future is especially difficult. So in honor of the years that I have invested in both JustHope, and Nicaragua, JustHope’s Board of Directors is establishing a “Sustainability Fund” to insure that JustHope has the financial foundation it needs to negotiate this transition safely and well.  We have a brilliant and effective staff, both in the US and in Nicaragua, but even a small dip in donor support puts them at risk.  We have some amazing and promising programs in the infancy stages, such as the Cultural Center, our Education Enrichment program, and our Model Farm, but without steady, stable donor support (and a little “fail forward” pot that makes it possible to take a risk now and then) those programs won’t be there to accompany our Nicaraguan partners in their dream of sustainable lives.   
 
So, I’m asking you to join the Board in funding this pathway for JustHope to move confidently and courageously through the next two years to claim it’s Future. You can donate here or send a check directly to JustHope.  
 
Thank you, my dear friends, for all that our hearts have experienced together. I look forward to all that is yet to be!  
 
In Gratitude and Hope,
 
Leslie Penrose
Founder and Executive Director
 

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