Paul Jacquay - Paraguay
Winter is upon us in Paraguay. The Lapacho trees soften the harsh reality of this event by spreading their violet flowers throughout the city streets. The cool nights are a blessing for us. It is nice to wake up in the morning and not be soaked with sweat.
Max Gunderson and Larry Pray describe "connection" as one of the leading causes of life in their book: The Leading Causes of Life. If this is the case, the life of our clinic out-reach project, MAESTRA, is gaining new life....
The latest connection started when the clinic for street children that I visit one day a week received a large stockpile of medication. All of the items were U.S. brands such as Tylenol, Contac, and Zithromax. But the value was enormous! The nurse asked me to interpret the English directions for her, and I asked where she got them from. She gave me the name DIBEN, and I told the director of Mision de Amistad about this. We were able to meet with the director of DIBEN this past week. We explained to him the project, philosophy and goals that we are working towards. He responded by saying that he would be glad to supply us with all of the medication that we need! He showed me an e-mail from an organization in the United States that wants to send medications to Paraguay. That afternoon I met with some doctors and we came up with a list of these medications and sent it to him. If this becomes a reality it will be a huge impact for Mision de Amistad. In my short time here working with patients I have seen so many who come to get treatment for hypertension. They are good at coming to get their blood pressure checked and medications adjusted for a couple of months, then they stop. They realize that they need to take this medicine for the rest of their lives and they just cannot afford it. For many of them the cost of the medicine is the same as the cost of the food for the family for a month. They would rather feed their family than take pills that don't change the way they feel (maybe a few less headaches). Also in my short time here I have seen a disproportionate number of people in their 40's and 50's suffering from the effects of a stroke that they experienced due to high blood pressure that was not controlled because they were not taking medication.
Another "connection" came to fruition this week when we opened two new clinics. These clinics are government public health clinics in a town about 20 miles away called J. Augusto Saldivar. Because we had been doing well with the other government health clinic, Loma Verde, the government director of the health clinics was happy to meet with us and asked us to staff these clinics. There is no doctor available for these clinics but the need is great, she explained. Her observation proved to be correct as we were very busy at each clinic. Last evening Dr. Raquel and I saw 35 patients. This is the most that we have seen in any clinic session so far.
But the greatest "connection" so far goes to the Disciples Church in Luque and especially to Pastor Roberto Martinez. The partially completed church building was our first clinic site where we saw 26 patients that Wednesday afternoon in October. When the number of patients declined pastor Roberto suggested that we need to get away from the church because there are people who will not go to a non-Catholic (more than 90% of the population is Catholic) institution. He told us about the abandoned health clinic at Loma Verde and arranged our initial interview with the government director of health clinics. He and his congregation continue to be our greatest source of support, distributing fliers around the community and spreading the word by talking about our services at community gatherings.
Marianne also is very busy with her English teaching program at Mision de Amistad. She now has 5 groups of students for a total of 32. She had to ask for more chairs last week for her adolescent group. This also points out a source of frustration for her because enrollment has remained open. She sometimes goes to class and meets new students who know absolutely no English and she has to coordinate them with others who have been progressing from the first day. Preparing classes for this program along with her regular "paid" job as English Literature instructor is keeping her busy! Winter vacation starts in 2 weeks and she is looking forward to the time off.
We are anxiously looking forward to those 2 weeks in July because Helen and Sean will be arriving and we are planning to enjoy being together as we go on a driving tour of Paraguay.
Paul Jacquay serves as a long term volunteer at Mision de Amistad (Friendship Mission) in Paraguay. Paul works as health consultant for the medical department and is a nurse trainer at the Mision de Amistad School of Nursing.