By Lydia Caldera and Natalie Walter
AMOS Health & Hope Development and Communications Coordinators
Read this story and many others in the
2016 Annual Report!
Patricia José Salazar is 44 years old and lives with her 2 children and her sister in Nejapa, the semi-urban community in Managua where AMOS is based.
She has been a Nejapa community health educator – or consejera in Spanish – since November of 2015.
Patricia has always had a dream to be trained in palliative care, and it is for this reason that she was interested in becoming a consejera when she was invited to a training by her church, and learned more about AMOS’ work. “Sometimes,” Patricia explained, “people don’t treat the elders very well, because they are at the end of their lives. But that is exactly the time when they need the most love and attention.”
Patricia’s love for the elderly was born from her own life experiences of seeing elderly people in her life who needed support. Patricia and her family used rent a room from another family and one of the men in the house was elderly and suffered from Parkinson’s disease. “He couldn’t shower or eat by himself,” Patricia explained. “When he tried, the food would fall off of the spoon.” It was difficult for Patricia to watch what he went through. “The owners of the house dismissed all of his difficulties, and I saw the man cry many times over his children’s indifference to him.” The experience of this family touched Patricia and contributed to her desire to serve.
Patricia and her family would also live through very difficult times.Five years ago, Patricia’s husband passed away. Two years later, her son passed away, and then her mother-in-law. Patricia fell into depression. She lost her appetite, stopped taking care of herself, and didn’t want to leave the house, preferring to be alone.
However, Patricia sought the help she needed to recover from her depression, and then became a consejera to help others in her community.Her daughter and son are very happy to see her working as a consejera, and encourage her to get trained and continue engaging in community activities. It is fitting work for someone with such a heart for caring for others.
“When my mother in law was in agony,” Patricia explained, “I took care of her. I gave her baths, listened to her stories, read to her and gave her the special care she needed. She always said I was like a daughter to her.”
Patricia truly has a heart of service for elders. “My heart warms for the elderly. There is so much to learn from them, and they can be like children who need a lot of attention.”
This is why AMOS is so blessed that Patricia works with us as a consejera! Although Patricia had a dream to study palliative care, she couldn’t afford a paid course. But with AMOS, she found a way to learn about basic care for elders! Patricia has been trained to take vital signs like blood pressure, and to take blood samples to test blood sugar levels.
Every week, Patricia joins the Chronic Patients’ Support Group at AMOS’ Samaritan Clinic in Nejapa to help facilitate the activities alongside AMOS staff. And, Patricia makes sure to do home visits with our chronic patients to follow up on their health condition and how they’re doing.
She’s also dedicated the time to studying other topics and skills in which she can be of service to her community, such as Zika prevention, teen pregnancy, how to talk to young couples about contraceptive methods, and also nutrition and habits for a healthy lifestyle, such as exercising regularly.
“My heart is still mourning the loss of my husband and my son, but working for my community is making me feel useful and alive again,” Patricia told us.
She explained the importance of the consejeras to her community: “Before, there was no one to counsel and follow up on the vulnerable people in the community who needed health care. Now, people recognize me as consejera, and let me into their homes to talk about health promotion and disease prevention.”
And Patricia is excited for this work to continue. “I hope to keep learning to better serve my community,” she told us. “I want the elders to feel they are worthy and that we love them as our brothers and sisters, I want them to know we care and that they matter.”