OPERATION BLESSING INTERNATIONAL
Health for Today, Hope for Tomorrow
By Kate Coppin
Operation Blessing International
SAN JACINTO, El Salvador – Some came by pickup truck. Others came by foot.
Ranging in age from 9 days to ninety years, these villagers suffered a variety of illnesses, such as respiratory infections, parasites, skin infections, and diarrhea. High up in the mountains, they rarely have the chance to see a doctor, much less afford one. But on this day, they would get world-class health care.
As part of a continuing partnership between OBI and Mayo Clinic to bring medical care and health education to underserved communities, over 200 residents were treated at a two-day health clinic set up by OBI and the Mayo Clinic in the small mountain village of San Jacinto.
“This is our second time coming to El Salvador,” said Dr. Steven Adamson of the Department of Family Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “The people here are so grateful for what we can provide them.”
San Jacinto was just one of many stops the team, including 8 Mayo doctors and 12 students, made during their week-long medical mission that included visits to municipal hospitals and rural clinics. Clinic staff distributed vitamins, antiparasitics, cough syrup, and simple pain relievers like acetaminophen, which brought relief to patients like 69-year-old Maria.
Maria came in with arthritis pain so bad she couldn’t turn her head. But when Dr. Andrew Gottschalk of Mayo Clinic asked the great-grandmother about her high blood pressure, he was surprised by Maria’s emotional response.
Bursting into tears, Maria explained that a year ago, she had mortgaged her house to pay for her son to go the United States and hadn’t heard from him since. With her arthritis, she had been in too much pain to work, and now, was in danger of losing her house because she could no longer afford her payments.
Dr. Gottschalk put Maria in touch with the local OB El Salvador staff, who quickly stepped in to help.
“We told her that we could help her start a business from home so she and her family could pay the loan,” said Tatiana Castaneda, office manager for OB El Salvador.
Maria had been making and selling typical snacks, but it was not enough. OBI took a portable gas stove to Maria’s house so she could begin making pupusas, a popular Salvadorian snack consisting of a tortilla stuffed with cheese and refried beans, to sell in her neighborhood and community.
Now Maria can earn enough to keep her home and afford to take better care of herself. At Dr. Gottschalk’s request, Maria will continue to visit the health clinic for frequent check-ups.
Altogether, over 1,000 patients received care during this medical mission. OBI and Mayo Clinic are planning additional visits to El Salvador this year, as well as to Honduras and Guatemala.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Be a part of OBI's ongoing medical relief efforts by making an online contribution to help those suffering from extreme poverty and sickness.
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