By Lydia Caldera, AMOS Health & Hope Development Coordinator
Agustín Malueños, the health promoter in his community of El Cedro, in the South Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, knows that it’s a big decision for any woman in a rural community in Nicaragua to leave her home to give birth.
Concerns about care for children who they must leave at home, being alone while they travel far distances, and having to receive care from unfamiliar faces are some of the obstacles they would face.
This was the experience of Agustín’s neighbor, Cándida Amador. At 33 years old, Cándida became pregnant. Her family only had a few hens and pigs that they breed and sell to support themselves. Cándida lives 12 hours away from the nearest health center; during an emergency her life and her baby could be in danger. Cándida could not afford the transportation to go to the health center regularly for her prenatal check ups, and was planning to give birth at home.
Everyday, pregnant women in rural Nicaragua face this situation. Health units and medical staff are hours away from rural villages, and they have a hard time accessing the care they need. So, they are vulnerable if complications arise. Both mom and baby face greater risks, sometimes even death.
Fortunately, thanks to people like you, Cándida and her family were not alone in this. With your support, AMOS is able to train community health workers like Agustín, and members of the health committee, like Lilliam Torres. Their service is motivated by love for their community. And Lilliam is also motivated from her personal experiences. She knows the risks of home birth because she almost died giving birth at home.
As soon as Agustín knew about Cándida’s pregnancy, he went to visit her and check on her health. “I examined her, gave her prenatal vitamins, and talked about a making a plan to go to the health center to give birth,” said Agustín. This is a big decision for any woman in a rural community. Concerns about care for children who they must leave at home, being alone while they travel far distances, and having to receive care from unfamiliar faces are some of the obstacles Cándida faced. These and other reasons are why women in rural communities are hesitant to give birth in government health centers.
But Agustín knew he couldn’t give up. He knew that if there were complications during labor, the distance and time it would take to get Cándida to a health center could seriously affect the outcomes. “I continued visiting Cándida to check on her health and make sure she was taking her prenatal vitamins. During a women’s gathering in the community, I asked Lilliam to share her story of how she almost died in the community because she didn’t go to the health center to give birth,” said Agustín.
Lilliam asked Cándida to please learn from her experience and act on time to prevent the worst. Cándida promised to think about it. When her due date was approaching, Agustín and Lilliam went once again to visit her and explain about the importance of giving birth at a safe place. Cándida agreed to go to the health center. A few days later, she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. And both mom and baby are healthy and back in El Cedro.
If Agustín and Lilliam had not been there to offer health care and counseling to Cándida, this could have ended very differently.
Community health workers, like Agustín and Lilliam, have the love, passion, and commitment to keep serving their communities, but they need your help to get the training, medicines, and support to continue reaching out to the most vulnerable: babies, children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
Thank you so much for your trust and support to help improve health conditions for vulnerable people in Nicaragua. The work we have been doing for more than 10 years has saved the lives of many pregnant moms and babies; increased child-wellbeing through vaccinations, deworming, vitamins, and nutrition education; and brought clean water, which reduces diarrhea and disease in the communities we serve. And truthfully, this was only possible because of you.
But there are still many needs and health disparities in vulnerable communities, and people that without our work might die or suffer serious complications from health conditions. We hope you will continue joining us in our efforts to reach out to people who otherwise would have no access to medicines or health care. Together, we can help them live healthier lives.
Please consider making a gift this holiday season! With your support, women like Cándida can know that they are not alone.
With your support, AMOS Health & Hope reached tens of thousands of people in 2017. As we celebrate ten years of ministry, please consider helping us reach even more people in the years to come. Check out this video to learn how you can make an impact!