A group of California State University, Dominguez Hills students spent Spring Break 2014 in Managua, Nicaragua, gathering data about hygiene and working with the community to improve the health of families in the area.
The three students— Temi Olagbemi, Reggie Withers and Courtney Zimmerman— are all enrolled in the CSU Dominguez Hills’ Master’s Entry-level Professional Nursing (MEPN) program, and they along with nursing students from San Diego State University and CSU San Marcos, were part of a nursing study aboard program organized by Fairfield University School of Nursing in conjunction with social work students at Universidad Centramericana (UCA). From March 28 to April 5, the students gathered data from a small neighborhood in Managua called Ayapal regarding the community’s health beliefs about hand washing. The students worked with local preschool children and their teachers, gleaning information about hygiene practices in the area.
“We observed the preschoolers wash their hands and recorded our findings,” Olagbemi said. “Our goal is to present the findings to the community, and in doing this, also educate them on the importance of hand hygiene and proper hand washing to prevent parasites.”
The students also held a health fair for the community, where they collected the preschooler’s health and weight information to ensure their development was on track, as well as conducted glucose and blood pressure screenings for the children’s parents.
According to Olagbemi, the community was extremely receptive to the students. “You could tell they were truly appreciative of the work we were doing for their community,” she says. “It was a very rewarding experience.”
The Fairfield University program in Nicaragua, which pairs nursing and social work students with a community in need on a variety of health initiatives began in 2008. It was extended in 2013 to work with colleges and universities in the U.S. The data collected from this year’s hygiene initiative will be used to find solutions for the spread of parasites in communities like Ayapal.
Calling the trip “enlightening,” Zimmerman says the trip helped cement her current career path. “It re-inspired my goal of becoming a nurse, as it opened my eyes to the various ways that nurses can make positive changes.”