In Guatemala and Albania, the countries where we have programmes feeding and caring for children, there is no National Health Service as we know it in this country. As a result, many of the people suffer from lack of medical care and attention.
In Guatemala, even basic consultations and medication are beyond the reach of most of the population, particularly in the rural mountain area where most of our programmes are located. People just suffer in silence because they cannot afford to get help.
In these mountain areas, witch doctors operated, offering no help at all and often making matters much worse. When Living Water Adopt A Child started working there in the 1990s they had to overcome suspicion and fear.
The breakthrough came when one of the first children to benefit from the feeding programme trained to become a doctor and to go back and work among his own people. Slowly but surely Dr Pablo gained the trust and respect of the people and was able to start to help them. He was delighted to be able to put some of the witch doctors out of business!!
Most of the most common ailments are very easy to treat if caught early enough – things like stomach problems and minor infections. We now have three fully staffed medical clinics in Guatemala offering free basic medical help to the children on our programmes and their families. Through a special fund called the Starfish Fund, we are also able to help with some more complex cases. Dental check-ups and treatment are also available.
Once a year, usually around March/April time. We run a medical and dental campaign in the most remote mountain region where we work. We open this up to the whole community and for a week anyone who comes along is seen and helped or referred on for further care. Volunteer doctors and dentists come and help our regular staff with this campaign, mainly from the USA and Canada. The 2019 campaign last month saw over 2,300 patients over the week and were able to help most of them. This is a huge task each year but provides vital help to these communities who have no other access to this kind of help.
The picture is much the same in Albania. Medical help and medication is very expensive and the general population, particularly in the mountain villages, simply cannot afford it. We are working hard to build up a similar level of care to that in Guatemala. At present we have a local dentist who sees all the children regularly and we have had medical teams visiting from the UK in past years to provide a basic level of help. Our starfish fund has also been able to help several children and adults with complex needs. Work is ongoing to identify the best way to provide more help to children and families in Albania.
To find out more about our work and how you could help children and their families in Guatemala and Albania, visit our website at www.adopt-a-child.com.