the first steps to better health in the trash dump…

After months of preparation and planning, and against all odds, our weekly free medical clinic in the trash dump community is now open!!!!


We tried to open the clinic a few months ago, but had to relocate due to issues with the landlord. Then once we moved and we were going to open, the flooding season started, which meant our clinic building was under water, so that delayed the opening again. But now that the rainy season is almost over, we decided to just go ahead and open it now.

The reason we have a clinic in this community is that there is no access to medical care for them within a reasonable distance. The closest clinic they could go to is 5km away. Though this may not seem that far to most people, when it costs them almost a day’s wage to get there, they just cannot afford to go…especially when they have had previously bad experiences there so they feel they might not even get the help they need if they do spend the money to go.

The day of our clinic opening I was a little nervous. How would the community receive us? Would we have any patients? Would we have too many patients that we couldn’t handle the volume?

I arrived ahead of the midwife and got a chance to talk to our community partners a little about the clinic. My language is still quite limited, so our conversation was very basic, but we were able to understand each other enough to figure out some final details. A little bit later, the midwife arrived. The only problem was there were no patients yet…

Instead of just sitting around and waiting for patients to arrive, we all got to work sorting through medicine donations to see what was expired and what could be used. We worked quite efficiently as a team and before we knew it, we were done!


A little bit after we finished sorting through the medicines, the patients started arriving.


Our first patient was a little boy who had been having diarrhea for over a month with bleeding.


I cannot imagine being four years old and being continually sick for that long. I am so glad our midwife was there and was able to help him. Though she saw many other patients with all sorts of problems that day, the young boy stood out to me as why we are there in the first place. People shouldn’t have to live in sickness, especially children. They should be learning, playing, and growing strong and healthy—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I know that the clinic cannot solve all of the medical problems in the community. But you have to start somewhere, and this is our first step. I am excited to see the impact on the community for years to come and how we continue to develop our strategy for better health for the Cilincing trash dump community

in loving memory…

Papa was an incredible man. He loved his family more than anything. He always had time for us and he always put us first. Whether it was working with cows, debating about politics, playing cards, or going for a swim—Papa always made sure that we felt like we were important and what we said and did really mattered.

I remember on one of Papa and Grandma’s visits when we were living in Mexico, I was sitting in the upstairs guest room playing progressive rummy—just, him, Grandma, and me. Part way through the game he and grandma offered me the opportunity to come to New York that summer, stay with them, and show my very own calf—which we named Daisy May. Little did I know that that decision to go would change my life forever.

I was nine years old the first summer I remember going. I was so excited to be at the farm and with Grandma and Papa. I didn’t really know all that taking care of cows would entail, but I was excited to get to spend time with them and do something that the Wigstens had been doing for generations.

My calf, Daisy May, was a handful. I remember Papa was so patient in trying to help me figure out how to handle her and what to do when she would freak out and start pulling me down lane where I was trying to walk with her. Once I was a little bit more advanced, he would stand in the middle of our “show ring” and pretend to be the judge so I could get some practice of how to look at the judge, the cow’s position and footing, and make sure everything was the best that it could be. He would have me go around and around and he never seemed to get tired of helping me get better.

When we were at the Dutchess County Fair that year, it was so exciting to be a Wigsten. I had never really understood how respected Papa was in the community until the fair. Everyone knew him and everyone respected him. He was that kind of person—genuinely friends with everyone. And because he had showed cows himself, and been a judge for so many years, he was a core of the holstein world in Dutchess County. It was so fun to be a part of that legacy.

That week at the fair was crazy—late nights, early mornings, washing the cows, sitting with the cows, playing cards, drinking the 4-H milkshakes (which were Papa’s particular favorite and we could always convince him it was a good idea to go get), and of course, the actual showing of the cows. By the end of the week I had won some ribbons—but that was not the best part of the summer. The best part was getting to spend time with Papa and getting a glimpse of the Wigsten world of cows, a part of me that I was just discovering. For the next ten years, every summer I would go up to Pleasant Valley for the summer to stay with Papa and Grandma and show cows.

Through my time with him, Papa taught me so much. He taught me about responsibility. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily feel like getting up early to go muck out the stalls before breakfast, if you have a cow, he would say, that’s what you do—so by golly you have to do it. It has been a great lesson that has helped me a lot over the years.

He also taught me about loyalty. Papa was one of the most loyal men that I ever knew. He would stick up for anyone—even people who did stupid things, because that is what friends and family do.

However, one of the best lessons I learned was the importance of fun and ice cream. Papa was always up for a game of cards and Stewarts ice cream. I remember that whenever we would make a run to the feed store in the truck, we could always convince Papa that it would be a good idea to stop at Stewarts and get a scoop (or two) of ice cream before heading home.

Papa was an incredible man, and I am so blessed that I was able to know him and learn from him these past 24 years. I will miss him so much. But his memory and legacy will live on.