Category Archives: Medical Aid

Voices from the Field: A Mother’s Story

AmeriCares honors the mothers of the world. From our work in 137 countries over the past 25 years, we know it is difficult for far too many mothers to get care for their children. Some carry their children on foot for miles to reach a clinic, others camp on hospital grounds for days waiting to see a doctor, and many go without food for themselves so they can afford medicines for their children.

AmeriCares hopes to make it easier for mothers, and their children, to get the medicines and health care they so desperately need. This is the story of Ana Deisy, the mother of one of our patients at the AmeriCares Family Clinic in El Salvador.

Ana Deisy Perez works hard to support her family, including Miguel her young son who suffers from crippling cerebral palsy. Born prematurely, Miguel was so tiny that he slept in a crib made out of a shoebox when he first came home from the hospital. Now 12, he is wheelchair-bound and relies on his mother and other family members to help him with basic tasks such as feeding himself.

Abandoned by her husband, Ana Deisy cleans houses, picks coffee beans, sells tamales – anything to put food on the table. Her home consists of two cement walls and a third made from broken, scavenged furniture. The loosely patched tin roof and leaky entrance way often create a muddy mess on their dirt floor, leaving the family exposed to the elements and disease.

For Ana Deisy’s family, there’s little left beyond the basics. So when someone needs help, she faces tough decisions. But one decision is easy – she takes her family to Clínica Integral de Atención Familiar, AmeriCares Family Clinic in El Salvador.

“When my sons and I need to see a doctor or get a prescription, the clinic is there for us,” said Ana Deisy. “The whole staff is so caring and thorough – I really don’t know what we would do without them.”

The clinic run by AmeriCares provides expert primary and dental care, diagnostic services, community outreach and health education. The continuity of care is especially valuable for Miguel, who receives all his basic medical treatments from the clinic. It also offers convenient, quick service with an on-site pharmacy stocked with medicines from generous donors. That means Ana Deisy spends less time at the doctor and more time helping her family.

“The Family Clinic that AmeriCares set up for us here provides such a high quality of care to the people who live in the surrounding area,” said Dr. Anibal Quijano, medical director for the clinic.

“It’s a comprehensive health facility, providing exams, x-rays, blood tests, prescriptions and a host of other services all available on-site,” said Dr. Quijnao. “This makes it so much easier for people like Ana Deisy to bring their families to the clinic for the care they so desperately need.”

Ana Deisy is just one of many Salvadorans who depend on AmeriCares Family Clinic for their health care. A full service clinic, AmeriCares offers everything from basic medical services for people suffering from chronic disease, mothers-to-be and young children. New services include physical therapy to help people recover from injuries and to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Voices from the Field: Mongolia

AmeriCares relief worker Zhenzhen Lu shares her experiences from her first trip in the field to Mongolia. Zhenzhen’s work in Mongolia supports at-risk populations including the homeless and orphans.

 


In Mongolia, the sky is a crystalline blue, the land is wide and vast, and when the wind comes, it comes without mercy.

We arrived in Mongolia on an October afternoon. By 4:00 p.m. dusk was already growing; the air was wintry, and in the distance, 10 miles north of the airport, the city lay under a thick grey haze. A long dirt road led past low mountains and occasional flocks of sheep to the city’s glimmering lights.

One of the strongest memories of the trip was going on a house call for a young patient named Sovd. A 17-year-old girl who suffers from seizures and cannot walk because of birth defects, Sovd lay silent and motionless in her bed. She looked at us with a combination of shyness and curiosity, perhaps wondering why strangers had come to visit.

The doctor who led our visit told us about Sovd’s mother, who works selling handbags for a meager income to support the family. She doesn’t earn nearly enough to purchase pain relievers that allow her disabled daughter to be comfortable. To make matters worse, her mother’s brother was recently incapacitated, putting increased strain on the family’s already limited resources. There was no word about Sovd’s father.

Next to Sovd’s bedside we saw a bottle of donated pain medicine delivered by AmeriCares the doctor had given her to provide her with some relief. This was the same over-the-counter medicine that we would buy for $3 or $4 a bottle back home. It costs as much as $15 a bottle in Mongolia, if you can get it at all. And an average Mongolian family survives on barely a few dollars a day.

The medicines AmeriCares delivers helps relieve illness, and provides hope one small step at a time. That’s why I’m proud to work to help AmeriCares fulfill its commitment to supporting people like Sovd, and so many more like her, during these increasingly difficult times.

I brought a lot of memories home from this, my first trip to Mongolia. I can still hear children at the orphanage giggling when they received the toys we brought them. In the chilly air, with the coming of winter, there was a certain sorrow, which I would remember vividly when my gaze was met briefly in the corridors and hallways of the hospitals which we would visit in the days to come.

Leaving Mongolia, there was much on my mind – from the unspoken pains that come with illness to the harsh living conditions which so many endure. I am all the more thankful for our local partners at AmeriCares. Our long-time partner, Fraternité Notre Dame, established an orphanage for abandoned children, a supportive housing settlement and various community programs for the homeless and the poor. Soon we will be sending our next shipment to Mongolia; I now also have a long list of needs for medicines and supplies compiled from the many doctors and nurses we met on this visit. Time to get to work.

~Zhenzhen Lu