By BLUM Summer Scholars Jennifer Zelaya and Ana Mascareñas
The first health and arts fair, SaludArte, in Chacraseca was a success! It was an event that could not have happened without the support of our fellow Blum Summer Scholar, Erik Peña, FNE International staff, and community members who were committed to the vision of the fair. We aimed to provide in-depth information on a unique range of public health topics through presentations and information tables, as well provide an opportunity for local organizations and artisans to showcase their work and share art activities with community members of all ages. We designed the event to engage participants on health topics throughout the day, and made it a priority to provide follow-up resources.
We had six presentations that ranged from how to prevent Dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases, to recognizing signs of depression and anxiety in oneself and loved ones. We also had a psychologist, primary care doctor, and dentists present who provided consultations with interested individuals. Art activities and jewelry making fostered creativity and learning among children at the fair. Jacqueline O’Toole works in collaboration with FNE International and local artisans, and she worked closely with children to teach them how to make pendants and necklaces. A marketplace area was provided where local vendors brought their produce and fair participants could purchase vegetables, fruit, and fresh smoothies at reduced prices. The Nicaraguan Red Cross was present and a number of individuals donated blood at the fair. We also partnered with Juegoteca, an organization in León that provides games and activities related to adolescent reproductive health. Needless to say, we had a lot of things going on.
It was immensely rewarding to have community members approach us and thank us for coordinating the event and that they had found the information to be valuable. It was also wonderful to speak to Conchita Montes, a community leader of Chacraseca who helped us organize the fair, and Michael Cipoletti, FNE International’s director, who informed us that they hope to have a health and arts on an annual or semi-annual basis. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with community leaders in Chacraseca, who do so much to improve the quality of life for families in the area, and to the many volunteers who lent their expertise, talents, and time to make the idea a reality. We hope the information shared, the discussions started, and the relationships created will continue to have a positive impact.