In the photo, Reyna next to two of her daughters.

Reyna’s heart shrank hearing her daughter in so much pain. She herself was in terrible pain, too.

Fever, vomiting, diarrhea with blood, acute stomachache. Reyna looked around as she lay on her bed. Her 6, 10, and 15-year-old daughters all lay there, too, one holding her belly and crying. Her husband was on the ground, clearly hurting. It had started before midnight, and the sun was already up.

Lilieth, her 6-year-old, was struggling the most. She wasn’t moving or talking. Her eyes were sealed shut. Reyna tried to move from her bed to go seek help. But she couldn’t walk more than a few feet.

By the grace of God, a neighbor stopped by. Reyna begged her to call Timotea Romero, the Health Promoter in their community of San Onofre.

Timotea and the Health Committee were already on high alert. Many people had called her or had come to the community clinic presenting similar symptoms.

“We realized quickly that many of our neighbors had gone to a birthday party the night before. They must have eaten or drank something there that caused them to get sick,” Timotea explained.

“We went out to assess how many families were affected. We found over 40 people sick…children as young as three years old…to elders older than 80. Nothing like this had ever happened before in our community. Everyone was terrified of what it could mean for us.”

For nearly 15 years, AMOS has helped local leaders like Timotea receive the training and resources needed to respond wholeheartedly and without hesitation to health emergencies like this.

Timotea called the doctor at the nearest health center and urged him to come there to help her out. While waiting for him to arrive, Timotea and many other volunteers transported patients, including Reyna and her family, to the community clinic, carrying them in hammocks or in their arms.

Members of the health committee in the community of San Onofre.

“We reorganized the clinic area so we could care for an influx of patients. We put up wooden shelves with nails on the walls to hang IV bags, gave patients oral rehydration salts, and dispensed acetaminophen to help with fever and pain,” Timotea recalled.

“Relatives were waiting outside of the clinic, panicking. Some patients were worse off than others, like Reyna’s daughter Lilieth. She was unresponsive and passed out many times. I truly feared for her life.”

Once the doctor arrived, he started working alongside Timotea and the health committee to administer medications. And that night, after 9pm, Lilieth and nine other patients were taken to the nearest health center – 2 hours away – for further care.

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