Changing Lives through Health Education
“But I don’t drink soda, only natural fruit juice. That’s ok, right?” This was one of the questions that was asked at a Diabetes Club at Clinica El Ayudante. I sat in awe as the conversation continued. Not because of the question, but what the question revealed, and where the question took us. We’ll get to that.
Part of Clinica El Ayudante’s mission is to show the love of Jesus Christ by providing quality educational experiences for our patients. We want to help prevent, not just treat. We currently do that through three classes, The Diabetes Club, Hypertension Club, and an Infant Nutrition Class. Diabetes and hypertension are our region’s top illnesses. All patients with those diseases, and their family members, are invited to the classes. Our infant nutrition class targets 18 kids who have been selected by our Dr. to take place in a nutritional supplement program. Babies and moms come once a month to receive the supplements, but also receive a short teaching on basic nutrition. Now, back to that question.
Dr. Yael with her hypertension club and some team visitors.
As I sat and listened to the conversation that ensued, I realized that things I had learned in high school health class have never been taught in this area. The simple knowledge of how your body responds to food was all new to this class. And they were eating it up. (Ha ha, see what I did there?) They were learning how to manage their disease, and you could see their faces travel the path from bewilderment, to empowerment. They were being given the tools to help themselves. I wanted to do a happy dance.
One of the sweet kids in the Infant Nutrition class, curious about the gringo in the room.
Just the other day in the Nutrition class, 17 out of 18 babies reported growth. Sure, babies are supposed to grow, big deal. YES BIG DEAL! These babies had been monitored for months, with little to no growth. And then, a visiting nurse spoke with our very passionate Dr. Through the volunteers generous donation and our Dr.’s hardwork and determination, the class begun. Do you know how much brain development happens in the first 5 years of life!? Do you know how little of that development can happen in a malnourished child? Lives are being changed through health education.
What if one of these patients lives one year longer because of what they learned, and in that year they accept Jesus Christ as their savior? Or what if they are able to teach their own families, and help them prevent the same disease? Or what if God created one of these babies with a heart for medical care, and now they will have the capacity to pursue that?
Every class begins with prayer. It’s no secret we are doing this in the name of Jesus Christ, so that the world will know His love. Will you pray with us? Pray for this program, the teachers, the patients, and the babies. And let us all pursue our own health, so that we can always be ready to do what God has for us to do. I don’t know about you, but when I’m healthy, I am a better wife, mom, and lover of people.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Benjamin Franklin
“Health Education is my favorite part of my job.” – Tracy Howard, author of this blog post, El Ayudante book-keeper, and health education consultant.