When a Newborn in Silvina’s Community Almost Died, She Was There
By Natalie Walter
AMOS Health & Hope Field Reporter
It can be scary when a baby is sick, but it’s especially scary when a baby is very sick and there is no doctor’s office nearby. In rural Nicaragua, where there is no accessible healthcare, a child’s illness can quickly become an emergency.
Silvina Lainez, an AMOS Health Promoter in the region of Chinandega, recently had a baby brought to her community clinic who could hardly move, whose fingers were turning purple, and who had dark splotches all over his body. The baby was only a few days old and his mother brought him to see Silvina after he had been sick with a cough and had not gotten better.
Silvina knew as soon as she saw him that they couldn’t wait another moment to take action. She felt very afraid for the life of the child, but she knew she needed to remain calm, for the mother’s sake and the baby’s. It was going to be necessary to refer him immediately to the nearest health center, because in the communities there isn’t the necessary equipment to attend to such a grave case. “This is what we have learned in all these years,” Silvina explained: “what situations are emergencies, what we can do about it, and what we can’t do ourselves.”
In the meantime, Silvina knew she had to do everything possible for the baby, who was still too young to even have a name. She knew to clear the phlegm and the milk the baby was unable to swallow from his mouth, and massage his chest and ribs to get his lungs working again. She did this for fifteen straight minutes until the baby was finally able to swallow again. Then, she gave him the proper dose of amoxicillin according to his weight, drop by drop to make sure that he could swallow and digest it.
The mother had come to Silvina first because she couldn’t afford the bus fare to travel outside of her community to go to a health center. So, Silvina gave the bus fare to the baby’s mother. She sent them off with a reference, knowing that the Ministry of Health staff at the hospital would be familiar with the work of Health Promoters. And as the mother and the baby traveled, Silvina stayed behind in the community, calling the Doctor’s office over and over again so that she could reach them and tell them to expect the baby, so that they would already know what to do when they arrived.
Thanks to the collaboration between Silvina, the baby’s mother, and the doctors and health center staff, the baby recovered within a few days!They continued the treatment they could in the community, so he did not become sick again.
When we talked with Silvina about this experience, we could see in her face and hear in her voice the passion she has for this work, and the love she feels for her community.
“I’ve been a Health Promoter for 29 years now, and I have dedicated all of my time to caring for the families in my community,” she explained, her earnestness evident in her smile. “For us Health Promoters, it is a great pleasure to serve people who don’t have any resources. We work in this way out of love.” Silvina placed her hands on her heart and looked up a little, choking back tears. “We have been truly hardworking in this work, based on the needs that we Promoters have come across, knowing that families are in these situations. So, it is really a pleasure to serve.”
It’s a pleasure for us, too, to be able to work with such amazing community leaders. We are blown away every day by the dedication, love, and quick-thinking that our Health Promoters show!
And this is exactly why we are so grateful for our incredible network of donors and supporters who help the AMOS Health Promoters to continue to save babies and children’s lives. It is such an honor for us to all walk alongside our health promoters and supporters alike.