Americares Staff

Video: #StandUp with AmeriCares

This summer, our interns explored how crisis, disaster and poverty affect health care for millions of people. They wondered: “What if it were us?”

Share their video and #StandUp with them to help make the world a healthier place for more people every day.

Medical Brigades Bring Needed Health Care to Impoverished Communities in Peru

Medical Brigades Bring Needed Health Care to Impoverished Communities in Peru
Medical Brigades Bring Needed Health Care to Impoverished Communities in Peru

Lily Bower, AmeriCares associate for Latin America & Caribbean Partnerships, shares a firsthand account of her experience with an AmeriCares-supported medical brigade in Yangas, Peru. Medical brigades are teams of medical professionals who travel to underserved communities and spend a day, or several days at a time, providing needed care and medications to patients.

Yangas is only two hours outside the

capital, but it is a completely separate world. Most residents here are too poor to access health services in Lima and often talk about the city like it’s another country. The medical brigades AmeriCares supports lessen this distance by bringing in skilled volunteer doctors to treat patients on weekends from sunrise until sunset.

“In a single day, 500 patients received treatment.”

The brigade I attended was set up in a local school. The chairs and desks were pushed to the corners of the classrooms so they could be used as exam rooms, and the large, concrete courtyard in the center of the school served as the waiting room and registration area. When I arrived, there was already a long line of patients waiting and a makeshift pharmacy set up in a dim storeroom. In a single day, 500 patients received treatment, including a young mother of three with a severely malnourished 4-month-old. The doctors discovered the baby’s cleft palate was preventing him from receiving the nutrition he needs from breastfeeding. A few days later, one of the volunteers returned with specialized infant formula for the baby, and the nearest medical clinic arranged for the follow-up care.

Volunteers run more than two dozen of these one-day health clinics each year, crisscrossing the country from the Amazons to the Andes and the frigid, southern border with Bolivia. I am honored to be part of an organization supporting their efforts with donations of medicines and medical supplies. Together we are restoring health and saving lives.

AmeriCares in the Field: Caring for Santana in El Salvador

Penny Crump, an AmeriCares staff worker, reports from our El Salvador Family Clinic.  Here she shares the story of Santana and  the Clinic’s impact on her family.


I saw Santana for the first time walking into a seniors health program, one of 33 education programs in the AmeriCares El Salvador Family Clinic. She was frail, slightly stooped and used a cane, yet she carried herself with a definite purpose.

Noticing my concern, my colleague Dr. Lopez told me that Santana, just a few days shy of her 87th birthday, was a regular at the Clinic. She benefits from the Clinic’s classes osteoporosis screening, nutritional supplements and other support services. Dr. Lopez nodded and smiled as Santana sat in her place of honor, a seat with a red cushion in the front row.

When class was over, I met Santana. She was very gracious and asked me to call her “Abuela” – meaning Gramma. She told me she liked the Clinic because it helped her stay as healthy as possible. She receives treatment for painful arthritis and gets supplements to prevent her osteoporosis from worsening.

The health care services provided by the Clinic are particularly important for Santana since El Salvador has a limited safety net for the elderly. And Santana has good reasons to look after her health — she takes care of her orphaned grandchildren, ages 11 and 14.  With no pension or anything like Social Security or Medicare, she works nearly every day selling tomatoes and doing odd jobs.

“My grandchildren are very obedient at home and are very good students,” she stated proudly. This determined 87-year grandmother will pay for their transportation and tuition through high school, an amazing accomplishment considering that studies show only half of poor, rural people in El Salvador are educated beyond sixth grade. “I would do anything to make sure they could stay in school,” she said. “I promised my daughter I won’t let them give up their studies.”

Santana then spoke of the great sadness in her life — the loss of her daughter from anemia-related complications several years before the Clinic opened.  Her son-in-law, a soldier, was killed during the aftermath of El Salvador’s civil war. She held onto my hand for the rest of the time we spoke.

Santana brightened when she talked about her healthy grandchildren who come to the Clinic for their check-ups and vaccinations. She says the doctors are kind and helpful, and the medicines are very good. Patients at the AmeriCares clinic get free or heavily subsidized prescriptions on-site, saving them money and a long trip to the nearest government pharmacy. If not for the Clinic, some families would have little choice but to buy expensive, questionable medications in the local street market. In one small town, I saw a man selling pills like a Times Square hustler selling designer knock-offs.

Santana was particularly grateful for hygiene items, like soap and bug repellent. In a place like El Salvador, which has insect-transmitted diseases such as dengue fever and many strains of bacterial and parasitic infections, these basic items are important to her family’s health.

When our talk was over, she gave me a big hug goodbye. I am glad to know my Salvadoran Gramma and her grandchildren are in good hands with my AmeriCares colleagues in El Salvador.

Photo by Miguel Samper. All Rights Reserved.

 

Penny Crump, an AmeriCares staff worker, reports from our El Salvador Family Clinic.  Here she shares the story of Santana and the Clinic’s impact on her family.


I saw Santana for the first time walking into a seniors health program, one of 33 education programs in the AmeriCares El Salvador Family Clinic. She was frail, slightly stooped and used a cane, yet she carried herself with a definite purpose.

Noticing my concern, my colleague Dr. Lopez told me that Santana, just a few days shy of her 87th birthday, was a regular at the Clinic. She benefits from the Clinic’s classes osteoporosis screening, nutritional supplements and other support services. Dr. Lopez nodded and smiled as Santana sat in her place of honor, a seat with a red cushion in the front row.

When class was over, I met Santana. She was very gracious and asked me to call her “Abuela” – meaning Gramma. She told me she liked the Clinic because it helped her stay as healthy as possible. She receives treatment for painful arthritis and gets supplements to prevent her osteoporosis from worsening.

The health care services provided by the Clinic are particularly important for Santana since El Salvador has a limited safety net for the elderly. And Santana has good reasons to look after her health — she takes care of her orphaned grandchildren, ages 11 and 14.  With no pension or anything like Social Security or Medicare, she works nearly every day selling tomatoes and doing odd jobs.

“My grandchildren are very obedient at home and are very good students,” she stated proudly. This determined 87-year grandmother will pay for their transportation and tuition through high school, an amazing accomplishment considering that studies show only half of poor, rural people in El Salvador are educated beyond sixth grade. “I would do anything to make sure they could stay in school,” she said. “I promised my daughter I won’t let them give up their studies.”

Santana then spoke of the great sadness in her life — the loss of her daughter from anemia-related complications several years before the Clinic opened.  Her son-in-law, a soldier, was killed during the aftermath of El Salvador’s civil war. She held onto my hand for the rest of the time we spoke.

Santana brightened when she talked about her healthy grandchildren who come to the Clinic for their check-ups and vaccinations. She says the doctors are kind and helpful, and the medicines are very good. Patients at the AmeriCares clinic get free or heavily subsidized prescriptions on-site, saving them money and a long trip to the nearest government pharmacy. If not for the Clinic, some families would have little choice but to buy expensive, questionable medications in the local street market. In one small town, I saw a man selling pills like a Times Square hustler selling designer knock-offs.

Santana was particularly grateful for hygiene items, like soap and bug repellent. In a place like El Salvador, which has insect-transmitted diseases such as dengue fever and many strains of bacterial and parasitic infections, these basic items are important to her family’s health.

When our talk was over, she gave me a big hug goodbye. I am glad to know my Salvadoran Gramma and her grandchildren are in good hands with my AmeriCares colleagues in El Salvador.

Supporting Medical Outreach in Uganda: Field Report

Dr. Mary Coleman, M.D., MPH and her team from Children’s Hospital and Research Center, Oakland recently returned from a medical mission to an AmeriCares-supported children’s hospital in Uganda. AmeriCares donates medicines and medical supplies to health care professionals providing charitable medical care to impoverished communities around the world. Dr. Coleman shared news and reflections from the field at the Holy Innocents Children’s Hospital.


Even though our team has been on many medical missions, it’s always difficult to witness children suffering knowing the only thing we can do is make do with what we have. Many young patients in Uganda have been lost despite the valiant efforts of our Ugandan doctors and nurses. Many of the children were just too sick and too small to survive. It is haunting to think that many of them would be alive right now if they had been able to receive treatment at our hospital back in the states.

Supplies are another challenge. Before we received AmeriCares donations, staff had to cut adult-sized medications into pediatric doses. It was amazing that all of the medicines we received from AmeriCares were exactly what our kids need, specifically for the weight and age range.

There is no way we could ever do this work without AmeriCares”

-Dr. Mary Coleman

But, I know we are making a difference here in Uganda, especially for one of our youngest patients – a newborn baby girl named Daphne. Her mother endured a difficult delivery and Daphne came down with a serious illness during labor – a deadly blood infection called sepsis.

Daphne suffered from seizures and had a fever of 104. Daphne’s mother, still weak from the delivery, slept on the hospital floor beside the basinet so she could be there to feed and care for her daughter. After four days of round-the-clock care, including AmeriCares medicines and IV antibiotics, Daphne went home alert, happy and strong. If we had been out of the medications, it could have been a very different outcome.