It’s January 1st, 2021 and a new day has begun with all of the promises and expectations of the new year. It’s a calm, still morning and I’m enjoying the day with my wife, thanking God for all of His blessings. Around noon, a phone call comes in and I’m expecting the usual New Year’s greeting from a friend, but when I answered I heard the trembling voice of a woman. I immediately knew that something was terribly wrong. Her voice was filled with heartbreak and despair. It was Emilia, a 24-year-old Wayuu mother and member of a community called “La Esperanza” or “The Hope”. This is a community located inside of a landfill that serves Maicao, Colombia a city just 10 miles shy of the border with Venezuela. Emilia called us desperately begging for help as she held the deceased body of her 2-year-old daughter in her hands.
Without hesitation, we rushed to the hospital where we found Emilia filled with pain and doubt. She was crying, “Why my God are you taking her away, on this day? I can’t….I can’t deal with this pain!” When we asked her what happened, she replied, “My daughter only had diarrhea and slept a lot, but I thought that she was fine, then she stopped responding, and I immediately ran to the hospital.”
As a doctor, it was evident that Emilia lacked the knowledge and tools of preventative health that were necessary to prevent her daughter’s death. That is why I will be fighting tirelessly to prevent more cases like this from happening.
You may be wondering, how can we keep this from happening? Where do we even start? It all starts with education and training. At Bread of Hope, we are developing a health program that will provide Wayuu communities with the tools and knowledge they need to implement preventive care. We will train community members as health aides, and educate them to monitor and promote the health of their community. The health aides we will be training are the disciples of the pastors in our “Sembradores” program. This health program will provide these disciples with opportunities to connect with their own communities, share the gospel, and make more disciples. Healing not just the body, but the soul as well.
If you’re wondering what happened to Emilia, she is doing better. She just found out today that she is pregnant again; Hallelujah!
Dr. Jose Espina.
Health Program Coordinator
Bread of Hope