November 30, 2007

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LEWISBURG, Pa. - Two delegations of Bucknell University students and faculty will travel in January and March to Nueva Vida, Nicaragua, to help build a spinning operation and provide support to a free clinic that is part of the University's ongoing volunteer project there.

Nueva Vida is a resettlement community of 15,000 people who lost their homes and livelihoods to Hurricane Mitch in 1998, when 10 feet of rain fell in five days.

 A volunteer project begun as a student initiative, the Bucknell Brigade - comprising Bucknell faculty, staff, students, parents and friends - has worked for the past nine years with a small non-governmental organization (NGO) called the Jubilee House Community to rebuild Nueva Vida.

Life improved but still difficult
Life in Nueva Vida is improved but still difficult, according to Bucknell senior and student coordinator Anastasia Sofianou. "Unemployment is nearly 90 percent; families live in one-room houses often made of metal scraps and cement blocks; and there is no consistently running water or electricity. Many villagers suffer from malnutrition, parasites and other diseases of poverty," she said.

The Brigade has assisted Nueva Vida with two educational service projects each year. Past projects have included community buildings and a permanent medical clinic which serves more than 3,000 patients annually. The clinic also houses a dentist office, laboratory and a 'green' pharmacy to develop herbal medicines and natural treatments.

Local needs
According to Ian Oliver, University chaplain, the January delegation's work assignments will depend on local needs and resources when they arrive on Jan. 6.

"The hope is that the group will be working on construction of the new spinning plant cooperative," said Oliver, who will travel with the Brigade. The spinning plant is an outgrowth of the effort to create new jobs in Nueva Vida.

"A few years ago, a women's sewing cooperative was formed and has generated global interest, but they lack a steady supply of organic cotton in the country. The hope is that the new plant will be a Nicaraguan bridge between small cotton farmers and producers," he said.

"The Brigade also will have conversations with Nicaraguan and American economists, historians and political scientists as well as elected officials of the municipality of Ciudad Sandino, where we work.
"And the group will spend a day traveling to the coffee cooperative of 'El Porvenir' near the city of Leon, where they will visit the ongoing water and electrification construction project begun last year by Bucknell engineers. Days off from work will include a visit to an active volcano, to a volcanic crater lake for swimming, and a tour of the capital city of Managua," said Oliver.

Support for the medical clinic
The delegation also will support work at the medical clinic in Nueva Vida, staffing the pharmacy, sorting medications, and translating for Dr. Don Stechschulte as he consults with patients.

To sustain the free health clinic, the Brigade is seeking donations of over-the-counter (OTC) medical supplies as well as prescription and special needs medical supplies. Contributions must be received before the University's winter break begins Dec. 22.

OTC supplies may be delivered to Janice Butler, director, Office of Service-Learning, at 121 Taylor Hall. Medical supplies, especially prescription supplies or pharmaceutical samples, should be delivered to Dr. Donald Stechschulte, director of the Bucknell Student Health Services.

Medical supplies list
The "wish list" for OTC medications and products includes: children's cough and cold remedies, vitamins for adults and children, prenatal vitamins, condoms, bars of soap, anti-fungal cream, splints and slings, antacid tablets (Tums, Rolaids), cortisone creams, skin lotions, antibiotic creams, ace bandages, cough drops and cough syrup, antiseptic spray, Pepcid, Zantac, Ranitidine, toothbrushes and toothpaste, Pedialyte (powder only), ibuprofen (200 mg only), naproxen sodium, cold and allergy tablets, and Pepto-Bismol (tablets only).

The "wish list" for prescription medicines and special items includes: Decongestants, Rocephin injections, one-touch glucose testing strips, asthma medication, Levaquin 250 or 500 mg, reusable bags and tape for autoclave, antibiotic eye drops, Glipizide 10 and 20 mg, Cephalexin (250 mg only), rehydration medicine, Glyburide 10 and 20 mg, Amoxicillin 250 mg, nebulizers, masks and tubes, Rosigliazane 10 and 20 mg, Cipro 250 or 500 mg, hypertensive medicines, Promemethazine 25 mg, Zithromax 100 suspension, gastritis medicines, antibiotics for children and adults, Zithromax 250 or 500 mg, Lindane lotion, and antihistamines.

Questions about contributions to the Bucknell Brigade clinic project may be sent to Dr. Stechschulte at 570-577-1401 or; or to Janice Butler at 577-3973 or

For more information about the Bucknell Brigade, visit

Contact: Office of Communications

Posted Nov. 30, 2007
Updated Dec. 3, 2007
Updated Dec. 6, 2007