News from the Edge

September 2023 Newsletter: Focus on Health

Since the start of ASOSAP, health care has been our priority. Why?

Our mission is to help people reach their God-given potential – physically, spiritually, emotionally,
economically. We realized that without good physical health the rural villagers would be unlikely to
fulfill their potential.

The Reality for Rural Villagers:

  • Common health challenges are upper respiratory infections, intestinal infections, complications
    of pregnancy, broken bones, open wounds
  • Villages are often far from a government health facility – sometimes many hours by foot
  • These facilities are overseen by a village health committee made up of lay people from the
  • A nurse arrives every one or two months to hold one-day well-baby clinics which includes
  • These nurses do not have a mandate to treat anyone else and do not have medicines to do so                   

The Results?

  • Many villagers suffer and die from preventable diseases and health challenges
  • The villagers feel like victims of fate with no control over their health and well-being

ASOSAP’s Action Plan:

  •  With God’s guidance and provision, we have established two health posts staffed by a full-time
    nurse in each one and with adequate supplies of free medicines
  • People of all ages are seen and many times the nurses make home visits
  • Our nurses have each received extensive extra education and on-the-job training
  •  Our health posts are equipped with equipment not usually available – nebulizers, glucometers,
    dopplers, strips for checking urine
  •  Along with diagnosing and treating, our nurses spend time teaching patients, in their own
    language and cultural context, so that patients can start taking ownership of their own health

It is amazing that the Pampacche health post has been in operation under ASOSAP for fifteen years! This health post, which is 1.5 hours from San Cristobal, serves ten communities and a population of 4,200 people.

In Providencia, it has been ten years. The health post there, located two hours from San Cristobal, serves five communities and a population of 2,500. That’s a lot of people being blessed with health care, empowered to live out their God given potential!

Providencia Health Post

This free, comprehensive, quality medical care that is provided in patients’ language and cultural context means that people of all ages have access to a better quality of life. They are spared health complications, death, and financial burdens.

Fifty-three-year-old Maria’s story shows this:

After a busy morning seeing patients at the Providencia Health Post, in the afternoon Nurse Miguel received a patient needing urgent medical care. Maria arrived at the health post bleeding profusely from an open head wound. Her son explained that she was harvesting food (pacaya) from a tree on their property and a large tree branch suddenly fell and hit her in the head. 

She passed out from this blow and was unresponsive for about 5 minutes. After she came to, she was in a lot of pain and in shock from the open, bleeding wound on her head. She couldn’t walk. Her son said that he was able to obtain some help from their neighbors. Together they carried her 25 minutes to the health post.

Miguel quickly got to work cleaning the wound in preparation for suturing it. He successfully closed the wound. He also gave the patient medication to decrease the inflammation and control the pain and antibiotic cream to prevent infection. Miguel advised the patient on the care of her wound. When the wound healed, Miguel removed the sutures.  Miguel possibly saved Maria’s life. Furthermore, she didn’t have to go two hours away to San Cristobal for medical care, a trip that the family couldn’t afford.

Elida is another example of life-saving care:

Nurse Alicia in the Pampacche health post detected that four-month-old Elida was malnourished. She only weighed nine pounds. Her mother did not have enough breast milk to nourish her in regular,healthy growth. Through supplemental nutrition and teaching her mother, Elida is now a normal weight and length and continues to grow. Without this care she could have died or had severe deficits thatwould affect her future ability to learn and have a secure future.

Another young life that is receiving medical care is four month old Adrian. He was born with severe congenital conditions, including the absence of an anal opening, meaning that he needed to have a colostomy. ASOSAP nurses have been coming alongside him and his family, including going to the city with them for evaluations and surgery needed to repair the colostomy that wasn’t functioning properly. His colostomy is working now. This assistance was crucial as health care services in the city are not in Pokomchi. When he is one year old, the plan is for him to have the surgery to create an anal opening and reverse the colostomy. The medical team in the city are aware of him through ASOSAP nurses’ assistance and evaluations for this surgery have started. You may remember a similar case in Frander. Frander had a long medical journey too, but is now healthy and thriving. We pray the same for Adrian.

As opportunities arise, the nurses advise patients to seek God and pray to Him for healing and help with their symptoms. Prayer and God-given medical knowledge and medications are a powerful combination. The nurses also keep patients in their prayers.

We thank you for your support of the ASOSAP health program. We could not have these successes without you. Please keep the nurses and patients in your prayers, that many lives would continue to be impacted.