Partner for Surgery Develops and Maintains Relations Within Rural Communities

By December 5, 2019Stories

Our Health Promoters are one of our strongest resources

Partner for Surgery has over 15 part-time rural Health Promoters who live in the communities they serve. These men and women publicize upcoming Medical Missions and help locate patients in need of life changing surgery.  They monitor babies in the Cleft Infant Nutrition Program, as well as escort patients to the hospital and stay with them until they are ready to go home. If problems develop, patients know the Health Promoters can be called upon for reassurance and assistance. The two examples featured this month illustrate how important Health Promoters are, not only to the people they serve, but to the success of PfS.

Zoila and Damien

Zoila, Damien, and Abelina

Abelina was bringing her newborn son Damien home from the hospital on a bus when the driver noticed she was distraught. He asked what was wrong and Abelina said her son was “ugly and sick.” The driver saw that Damien had a cleft lip and palate and contacted Zoila, the local PfS Health Promoter.

Zoila hurried to Damien’s home and found the father angrily rejecting his son and telling Abelina, “stop feeding him and let him die!”

Zoila convinced both parents to enroll Damien  in Partner for Surgery’s  in-home Cleft Infant Nutrition Program and through her frequent visits, Damien’s health was maintained.

Zoila then arranged for Abelina and Damien to attend the PfS September rural triage mission where he was seen by Dr. Lawrence Coleman – a pediatrician from South Carolina, as well as a PfS Board Member. Dr. Coleman confirmed Damien was healthy enough for surgery and, with Zoila’s assistance, Damien was  seen by the Smiles for Guatemala surgical team in November. He received his cleft repair November 6th and will remain in the nutrition program until next year when he returns for cleft palate surgery. He is now six months old and an accepted member of his family.

Marta and Felisa

Felisa and Marta

Like many older women in rural Guatemala, Felisa lives alone.  Her husband died 25 years ago and her children have all left the small village of Cahabon where they were raised. Felisa gets along by walking into the mountains every morning looking for herbs, fruits, and vegetables to sell in the local market.

Six years ago, Felisa came to a Partner for Surgery rural triage mission with an inguinal hernia – the result of her heavy labor.  Our Health Promoter in that area, Marta de la Cruz, made sure Felisa received a hernia repair with a Partner for Surgery team.

A year later, Marta met Felisa in the market and learned she had another hernia. Felisa had another surgical repair.  Recently, Marta learned Felisa was in great pain with a prolapsed uterus, so she again took charge and Felisa had her third surgery with a Partner for Surgery surgical team.   Felisa now is healthy and has a wonderful smile! Each time our triage team is in her village, she comes by to say hello and our staff provides her with vitamins and a little food and money. Although she only speaks Polocomchi and Quechi, her appreciation is well understood and her positive spirit is infectious.