By Megan Thoms
Life has a way of coming full circle, with lots of dots that don’t always seem to connect, but when viewed over an extended time have a way of linking together and revealing its beauty.
Sofia and Soledad were two sisters who were born in Nicaragua and spent their formidable years just outside the small town of Leon. They were born in the early 1900’s, the years aren’t exactly known. What is known, is that they had a hard beginning. Their father passed away shortly after Soledad’s birth, then a brother to pneumonia and finally their mother when Sofia was just 12 and Soledad 4. They went to live in an orphanage, where life was tough. When Sofia was of age to travel, she left and went to Panama, where she met an American sailor and they fell in love. They married and moved to the United States, and Sofia sent for Soledad to join her in the U.S.
Fast-Forward 80 years and that brings the story to me. My name is Megan Thoms and Soledad was my grandmother, Sofia my great-aunt. I loved listening to both of them talk in their Spanish accents, so absolutely foreign to me. They always had warm smiles, gave great big hugs of welcoming, along with a silly playfulness that I loved as a child. They spoke very little of Nicaragua, perhaps too painful with the loss they had experienced in their youths. I’m truly amazed to remember their sense of joy and enduring spirit – a gift brought about by the opportunities that were given to them by others. Beyond those memories from my childhood of Sofia and Soledad, I didn’t give much more thought to Nicaragua. It was simply the birthplace of my grandmother and great-aunt.
As an adult I chose medicine as a career, wanting to help people and share in Sofia’s desire to care for others. I married, had 3 children and life was good, until one-day tragedy struck my house, and in 5 short months, cancer took my beloved husband.
On my journey of healing from the tragedy of loss and feeling lost in the process, I stumbled upon a quote from Gandhi, which stated, “when you’re lost, the best way to find yourself is in the service of others.” I was out having lunch with a friend shortly thereafter and mentioned the quote to her, followed with, “I’d love to do a medical mission abroad.” As life often surprises us with what we need, she shared with me that she was on the Board of a medical clinic in Nicaragua and asked me to join her on her next trip. In that moment I started to feel alive again with connection and purpose. I thought of Sofia and Soledad and how I was going to see that foreign place that was part of my grandmother and great-aunt.
My trip was an amazing experience seeing the beautiful smiling faces and hearing the voices of Nicaraguans that reminded me of Sofia and Soledad. Learning of the needs of the country – the second poorest country in the western hemisphere – was heartbreaking. But in all the poverty and need of the country, I also saw there this beautiful presence of people and organizations that are providing hope, care and love. One of these places of beauty is Clinica Verde. I felt quietly blessed to see the clinic first-hand, certainly a place of health and hope for a community that needs health care and preventative health education.
So the thought emerged of creating a scholarship fund honoring Sofia and Soledad, “Two Sisters.” Their story of hardship in life, that we all face at one time or another, is a story of endurance of the human spirit when others give hope, love and opportunity. I know Sofia and Soledad would be delighted, with joyful, smiling faces, to have their story and names attached to Clinica Verde and the HIGHER program.
And so a full circle moment in life occurred across the generations of my family – the beauty that flows from tragedy and sorrow. Please consider how you can contribute to the HIGHER program and provide an opportunity to inspire service in others.
Megan Thoms has created the Two Sisters Scholarship Fund to award 1 full scholarship annually for a student to attend the Clinica Verde HIGHER program.