A medical team member, Dr. Bob Fortne, with Dr. Jorge Guillen, one of two physicians on Ometepe.

Early on, medical assistance to Ometepe was a high priority of the Sister Islands Association. Though the Sandinistas had established community health clinics, ably supported by Cuban doctors, the US trade embargo left Nicaragua without medicines and supplies.

Between 1990 and 1993, six Bainbridge medical teams visited Ometepe, primarily Maderas. With no road for vehicles around the southern volcano, the teams walked from village to village holding clinics. They came to realize they were seeing recurring, serious illnesses that resulted from one major problem: Each community’s drinking water came from the lake, which livestock frequented. No amount of outside medical help would ever improve health on Ometepe as long as there was no source of clean water. The Sister Islands Association turned its efforts towards preventative health projects and workshops rather than practitioners attending clinics.

Nurse Diane Jennings, with a friend in San Ramon. When the Sister Islands turns toward preventive health efforts rather than clinics, Diane evaluates the training of health brigadistas.

Ometepe health workers Thelma and Jenny Diaz work with Sister Islands’ medical teams.