Newsletter, Fall/Winter 2023
Volume 24, Issue 2
$150,000 Matching Gift Challenge
Our year-end $150,000 Matching Gift Challenge is now in effect. Every dollar that we receive between now and December 31st up to $150,000 will be doubled by an anonymous donor. This money will fund our clinics in the year 2024.
Patricia has no memory of her mother or father. She grew up in orphanages in and around Santa Cruz. In the orphanage where she lived as a teenager, there were young American women working as volunteers. One volunteer soon came to realize that when the girls finished high school, they would “age out” and have to leave the orphanage. Because these girls were without family and resources, they often ended up on the street with no place to go. To help these girls further their education and get a good job, a non-profit was formed called “Casa de Esperanza,” or “House of Hope,” and they opened a home for the older girls.
Patricia very much wanted to go to college, and she was one of the first girls to go to Casa de Esperanza. There she enrolled in a private university. As an honor roll student, she could earn a scholarship. Not long after that, Patricia began experiencing severe abdominal pain. Casa de Esperanza had very limited funds, which covered room and board and tuition, but there was no extra money for medical care.
Then one worker heard about a new medical clinic that was soon to open, where all the services would be free. The Mission of Hope clinic in Santa Cruz had not yet opened, but we had many doctors working with us on a volunteer basis, seeing patients for us in their private offices. They referred Patricia to Dr. Ruth Turner, our soon-to-be medical director. She examined Patricia and sent her for an ultrasound, which revealed a very large tumor growing in her ovary. She needed immediate surgery as the tumor was growing rapidly. Dr. Ruth performed the surgery in a private hospital. She removed a tumor the size of a football and the ovary.
After recovering from the surgery, Patricia completed her studies at the university with the help and encouragement of an American missionary named Kathleen. A few months after graduation, Kathleen introduced her to some friends who were visiting from Ireland. The friends fell in love with Patricia and offered to pay for classes so she could learn English. Not long after that, Patricia traveled to Ireland and got a job as a “nanny.”
Eventually, Patricia met a wonderful Irish man and married. She was then 38 years old. More than anything, she wanted to have a child. Because of her age and because she had only one ovary, the doctors did not give her much hope for a pregnancy. But Patricia had faith that God would give her a child. Five years later, on July 6th of this year, prayers were answered as baby Mateo was born… a healthy baby boy! As Patricia thinks back to the excellent surgery she received from Mission of Hope many years ago, she is more than thankful. Without that operation, Patricia’s story could have had a very different ending.
Oscar is 10 years old. He lives with his mother, father, grandmother, and 4 younger brothers and sisters. His father works in construction earning about $17/day, which he uses to cover rent, utilities, and food for the family. Oscar’s mother takes care of the grandmother, who has rheumatoid arthritis and is unable to care for herself. They live about an hour by bus from the Mission of Hope clinic in Sucre.
Oscar is in 4th grade in public school. Gradually over 2 years, his grades dropped lower and lower until finally, he failed 4th grade. His mother thought that he was just being negligent with his studies until the teacher called her in for a conference and told her she needed to have Oscar’s vision checked. So, she took him to a neighborhood health clinic. The doctor there informed her they did not do vision tests and that she would have to take him to a specialist. She did not have money to pay a specialist. She visited her sister, who frequently had mentioned a Christian clinic where everything is free.
One of our doctors saw Oscar and then referred him to an ophthalmologist. After a thorough exam, they gave Oscar a prescription for eyeglasses. Mission of Hope paid for the consult and the glasses. Oscar was so excited to receive his new glasses, saying that he could do well in school. For most of us, eyeglasses seem like a minor expense, but for a father supporting a family of 8 on $17/day, glasses were not even a possibility.
A Loaves & Fishes Story
John, Elizabeth, and Peter are 3 American nurses who recently traveled to Bolivia to do some health teaching in our clinics. A highlight of their time in the Sucre clinic was a day set aside for diabetes education. In planning for this event, the Sucre staff came up with the idea to prepare an assortment of foods that would be healthy for diabetic patients to eat, which they could serve to the patients who came. The staff used their own money, time, and resources to prepare the food. Elizabeth says, “The staff was just beaming” as they arrived at the clinic with their dishes in hand… so happy to share with the patients. She also noticed that it didn’t seem like a lot of food, because 79 patients had been seated. Peter also commented to Elizabeth that it didn’t seem like enough food for all the people who came. But in the end, every patient received a full plate of food, and there was food left over! Elizabeth asked Tania, our administrator, who was helping to serve the plates, how they had managed to “stretch” the food. Tania replied, “I think it was a miracle.”