Ingenio San Antonio, Nicaragua - Cessie Spearing, ReSurge’s communications coordinator (in the field in Nicaragua)
In Managua, Nicaragua there is a beautiful little girl named Ana. She is 5 years old and has a long dark braid. She is poised, polite and confident, smiling thoughtfully at strangers she encounters during her day. She loves to dance and sing and even though she’s only 5, she’s a zealous reader.
One thing you’ll notice when you meet her, though, is that when you talk to her, she’ll lean her head back to see you. Ana was born with unilateral ptosis, a condition that causes one eyelid to droop heavily. Unrepaired, ptosis may severely impair one’s field of vision. Ana and her family traveled 2 ½ hours from Managua to see the ReSurge team in hopes of having her left eyelid repaired.
I fell in love with Ana on clinic day, taken by her sweet smile as she graciously let me photograph her. I was able to follow her throughout the rest of the day and the next. She remained calm, and if she was ever nervous, she didn’t show it. She just held onto her father’s hand and watched quietly as the doctors and nurses whirred around her. On the day of her surgery, she maintained her brave face as she walked back to the OR.
The surgery was performed by ReSurge International medical partner, Dr. Humberto Briceño, and another Nicaraguan team member, plastic surgeon, Dr. Kurt Berry. ReSurge medical volunteers visited during the operation to see how things were going. When Ana woke up, she looked around her as if nothing had happened, despite the patch of gauze that had been affixed over her left eye. Volunteer recovery room nurse, Wendell Alderson, gently assured her that everything had gone well and asked her to take deep breaths. She did as she was asked and waited patiently for her parents to come pick her up.
While Ana was in surgery, I had a chance to interview her parents Israel (age 37) and Edith (age 24). They were eager to speak to me about their little girl. They are small business owners in Managua, selling nacatamales (Nicaraguan traditional tamale) to the bustling population of the city. When they heard about the opportunity of free surgery in Chichigalpa, the whole extended family pooled resources to get them there. Edith borrowed a car from her father and other family members offered money to cover the cost of travel.
I asked her parents if Ana is ever bothered by the way she looks. They said that it makes her sad when she hears hurtful comments—the other children call her “drop eye” or other mean nicknames—but they are proud of the way she carries herself despite the ridicule and are confident that Ana's ambition has not been dampened.
With great satisfaction, they reported that on clinic day, after she had been seen by the ReSurge team, she said “Mama, two things: one, I want to learn English. Two, I want to be a doctor one day.”