The hand-painted sign on the wall in St. Joseph's Hospital reads: "Me llamo Nicolas Ruiz Flores."
When Nicolas was three, his dad was kidnaped and executed. Later that same year Nicolas' mother was kidnaped and she is presumed dead. The child cannot tell you very much about what happened to his parents because he is a deaf-mute. The eight-year-old communicates with his own limited set of hand signals, since he hasn't been taught to sign.
Nicolas was in Phoenix to have a life- threatening tubercular growth removed from his spine. He returned to Nicaragua at the end of last month in a full body cast.
During his Arizona visit, Nicolas feasted upon videos. His favorite was E.T., the story of a small alien who visits a very strange land far away. One night Nicolas watched the tape three times.
Nicolas was brought to Phoenix by a nonprofit organization called Walk in Peace, a group that aims to provide prosthetic limbs and medical treatment to the thousands of amputees--mostly women and children--who are victims of the ongoing conflict between the contras and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
It is a moment of some charm when I discover that Walk in Peace is being aided by an Arizona Goldwater.
Barry Goldwater's book about his life in the U.S. Senate is a current best seller. Pages are devoted to the old warrior's opposition to the regime of Daniel Ortega in Managua and to the senator's belief that the contras should be funded so that they might continue the war.
And yet here is Barry's granddaughter, C.C. Goldwater, working tirelessly on behalf of the women and children of Nicaragua who have been maimed by the conflict.
You have to respect a clan that tolerates this sort of diversity.
Her business card reads "AuH2O," a reference to the bumper stickers that cropped up during her grandfather's '64 race for the White House. But C.C. Goldwater's pitch is right out of the current president's inauguration speech.
George Bush did not rattle the saber, cite the Monroe Doctrine or puff out his chest about Manifest Destiny during his inaugural address. Instead, he expanded upon his campaign's rhetoric regarding a thousand points of light.
"My friends, we have work to do," he said. "There are the homeless, lost and roaming--there are the children who have nothing, no love, no normalcy . . . and what do we want the men and women who work with us to say when we're no longer there? That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us? Or that we stopped to ask if a sick child had gotten better and stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship."
Of course, all of this rhetoric is good for the heart cockles of Republicans, who think it hints at greater tax breaks for the well-to-do. The GOP theory is that wealthier folks can then contribute more to the community.
The reality, however, is that the rich give a lower percentage of their income to charity than do the poor. According to the Washington, D.C.-based group the Independent Sector, people with incomes over $100,000 contribute 2.1 percent annually, while those making under $10,000 kick in 2.8 percent.
Still, we must applaud every point of light, since there are so few candles in Arizona.
And so C.C. Goldwater and her friend Karrie Anderson are organizing a Phoenix benefit on February 24 featuring Martin Sheen and Grammy Award nominee
You may find politics a snore and cause-oriented actor Martin Sheen a tiresome mouse fart, but Los Angeles Times music critic Leonard Feather predicts that Take 6 is a shoo-in to win a Grammy as best new artists, best soul gospel group or best jazz vocal group. All of this glitz, glitter and get-down will occur over an 8 p.m. dinner catered by Ruth's Chris Steak House, RoxSand, Steamers, Malee's Thai Gourmet, 8700, and the Arizona Club. Cocktails are at seven.
Virtually 100 percent of the proceeds from the $75 tickets to the event will go to Walk in Peace, a program started by Jubilee Partners, a Christian group in Georgia. To obtain tickets call Barry's daughter, Joanne Goldwater, at 946-5531.
Jubilee Partners is one of those pushy religious organizations that insist upon interfering with U.S. policy in Central America.
When Hurricane Joan tore through Nicaragua on October 22, she left 300,000 people-- almost 5 percent of the population-- without a roof over their heads. The destruction was devastating. The Reagan administration, however, refused to send any humanitarian assistance.
The folks at Walk in Peace got the first relief plane into Managua after the hurricane and it carried 60,000 pounds of supplies.
On the DC-8's return flight to America, the people from Walk in Peace brought Nicolas Ruiz Flores to Phoenix for his lifesaving operation. Nicolas was accompanied on his journey by Maryknoll layworker Mary Delaney.
"A lot of people think the war is over," said Delaney during an interview in St. Joseph's cafeteria. "But people continue to die. During the hurricane, during the state of emergency, an ambulance driver was ambushed and killed. We've had 10,000 children orphaned since '81."
Although Walk in Peace gladly coordinates special efforts to aid victims like Nicolas, the real thrust of its program is to supply badly needed prosthetic limbs for amputees. Because of the increased use of land mines by both the contras and the Sandinistas, the civilian population has suffered an enormous loss of limbs.
The Red Cross estimates that, at the current rate of need, it would take the international relief organization ten years to supply all of the artificial arms and legs necessary in Nicaragua. That is why Walk in Peace has stepped forward.
Through a policy of apoyar (support), the Christians are training the Nicaraguans to make their own prosthetic devices and to rehabilitate their fellow countrymen.
Although Walk in Peace is decidedly nonpolitical, it is clear that C.C. Goldwater and Karrie Anderson are those perfectly silky Oil of Olay ladies who are the hope of the Republican party's future.
Anderson even joked about once finding herself at a fund raiser for Democrat Bruce Babbitt. She said all of her friends wondered what Democrats were actually like. Ms. Anderson was compelled to tell her GOP sisters that it seemed as if all of the Democratic men hugged each other and that all of the Democratic women dressed poorly.
Isn't it reassuring that women who make such wicked remarks are capable of good deeds?