Here is the profound story of Maria Elda, long time patient at La Clinica El Buen Pastor in Honduras, sent in by our partners Sheree and Cindy:
Maria was one of my first patients at the government health center eight years ago. Quiet and somewhat serious, she arrived barely able to breathe. The nurses said she had been like this for several years and came regularly in search of medication that could ease her difficulty breathing. After a month, I realized she was coming weekly and no one had tried to give her medications to prevent her severe asthma attacks. With the limited resources we had at the government clinic, we were able to start medication to decrease her attacks. She faithfully came every month to get her meds and still had attacks, but now easier to control. Behind the serious exterior, I began to see some smiles. Every visit she would share a little more. She had severe pneumonia several years earlier, which had essentially destroyed one of her lungs. Just over 40 years old and limited by her illness, she was barely able to work to sustain her family.
Over the months, I learned more about this brave and proud woman. She had five children; her husband was a severe alcoholic, physically abusive, and stole money she saved to buy food for alcohol. When I visited her home, I was amazed at her courage and determination while facing all these obstacles. Whenever you spoke with Maria Elda, her first concern was if her children had eaten.
Upon finishing my social service, I began my work full-time in La Clinica El Buen Pastor. Maria Elda came with me. She was now a regular at the clinic, where she continued to find help and support from the entire staff. Over the years she had many health crisises. She begged us not to send her to the hospital and, time and time again, the Lord preformed miracles. Fortunately, We were able to stabilize her at the clinic. There were times when her situation felt impossible and still, her only concern was whether her children had food to eat. Her husband had been killed in a fight some years earlier and when she was sick, her children were completely alone.
As the years passed, Maria’s lung function continued to decline and she essentially became apart of the clinic. With severely limited economic resources, the clinic was the only place she knew she could always find help and be treated with love and respect. When I arrived in the mornings, my staff had often already started her treatments. Sometimes she wouldn’t come for weeks and then appear barely able to breathe. I felt angered and she would laugh and say she knew I loved her and could make her better. As various specialists visited the clinic, their response was the same, “You are doing everything you can for her”. So we continued treating her and growing to love her more and more each day.
In the last year, her heart began to fail due to to extreme lung problems. Yesterday when Maria arrived, her crisis was the worst yet. She arrived barely able to breathe, losing consciousness for moments. Unable to find her blood pressure, she slipped in-and-out of consciousness. As we prepared to take her to the hospital, she said she was going to die, and she wanted to die in her clinic. It was the only place that had helped her and cared for her. She didn’t want to go to the hospital or even to her home. We did everything we could, but even if we had managed to get her to the hospital, it is doubtful they would have been able to do any more.
Yesterday shortly after Noon, Maria Elda slipped from this world, and into her Father’s arms. My husband ran to purchase the coffin and our nurses lovingly help Maria’s family prepare to lay her earthly body to rest. Then, they worked tirelessly to make food for her children and assure that they were taken care of. As Dr. Salavarria and I spoke that afternoon, overwhelmed by the sadness of such great a loss, I was reminded of Maria’s last words. She wanted to die in the one place she had always found acceptance, love and help.
As physicians, we train and are driven to save the body. As ambassadors of Christ we train and are driven to save the soul. Today we were ambassadors of Christ first and foremost. To provide a clinic where one can say, “This is the place where I was accepted, cared for and loved”.
Last Friday, a group of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity members from the Gamma Delta Chapter at University of Arizona came to volunteer their time with Giving Children Hope. The group worked to sort food and stuff backpacks for the local We’ve Got Your Back program as well as sort medical supplies and prepare shipments of humanitarian medical aid for Iraq, Haiti and other regions of the world.
We’re so grateful for hours spent and hard work completed by PKA. Thank you donating your time with GCHope!
*photo courtesy of Pi Kappa Alpha.
Giving Children Hope partnered with La Sierra University students to provide medicines to a development project they are assisting in Arizona. The students are working with the nonprofit Project Pueblo aid members of the Navajo Nation existing on a section of the reservation called ‘Bennett Freeze.’ Darla Martin Tucker from the university reports that “the Navajo in this area, a region banned to development, housing construction or repair for decades, have been living in dilapidated houses, trailers and hogans, many of which have no running water, natural gas or electricity. In some cases dwellings are located near old uranium mines that many believe may have been leaking radiation, poisoning water tables and soil.”
The medicines will treat the residents of that impoverished area.
To date, Giving Children Hope, along with its partners, has sent $7 million in aid to Haiti to help with the aftermath of the January earthquake. Here is a thank you letter from one of our partners who helped administer aid:
Greetings from Global Aid Network! I want to thank you so very much for your contribution to our ministry. It is my pleasure to inform you that the great needs are being fulfilled around the globe due to the wonderful generosity of your organization. Countless lives will be touched through your giving. Your continued support is both essential and much appreciated.
thank you again for playing a critical role in helping to meet the needs of hurting people around the world.
with sincere thanks,
For Immediate Release
Giving Children Hope is Addressing Humanitarian Aid Crisis in Sri Lanka
BUENA PARK, Calif. (May 6, 2009)- Giving Children Hope is responding to the crisis in Sri Lanka by sending out a shipment of beds to internally displaced persons. This container is in partnership with the International Medical Health Organization. http://www.gchope.org/help-idps-in-sri-lanka.html
The shipment will be received by the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA), a collection of agencies that support projects and work within the nonprofit humanitarian sector in Sri Lanka.
As of April 26, 2009, there were as many as 160,000+ internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka taking refuge in camps across the Northeast, with an estimated 60,000 more still trapped within the conflict zones. An estimated 6,500 ethnic Tamil Sri civilians have already been killed.
Giving Children Hope is a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty (domestically and abroad) through disaster relief, health and community development, vocational training and advocacy. For more information, visit www.gchope.org.
Giving Children Hope
Ph: 714-523-4454 x. 122
Today I talked to a few different people about the crisis in Zimbabwe. As it turns out, we broke down our costs and we are working to fundraise just 22 cents per person to treat for the cholera outbreak. Wow, just 22 cents! That means that if you skipped a grande latte at Starbucks for $4.50 you could send medicines to treat 20 people! Wow!
When I look at the numbers I find it all to be so staggering. It’s hard to not feel guilty when you spend money other ways. I don’t think the point is to feel guilty, or the point is to never drink a coffee at Starbucks. But it certainly puts into perspective how you spend your money when you put things side by side.
I’ve had people ask me how much you should give. I have a hard time answering that question. I guess we should give everything in a way. __From a Christian perspective, everything is the Lord’s, I own nothing because I can’t take it with me when I die.__ So if I’m just a steward of resources then I guess I’ve really giving it all.
Now, that isn’t such a great answer to give people. So I usually say that I think a good level of giving is one where you are making a sacrifice. Meaning, if you are buying yourself everything you want, and you are only giving from your leftovers of disposable income, I don’t think you are giving enough. I think a good sense is tempering your spending, waiting on the iPhone or not going out to dinner some night so that you can give, then I think that’s a good level of giving and gets the focus off of our self and onto others.
Today as I think about my people I know from Zimbabwe, my heart aches. If you have not had a chance to assist in the outbreak but would like to partner together to ship medicines, please visit our story on Zimbabwe.