Dear Friend of our Nicaragua Community,
In this season of giving, I’m asking you to step into the footprints of one of my heroes – the late Roberto Clemente…
But first, let me tell you the story of a little girl we’ll call Maria Elena…
Rosa Gonzalez yanked open the door to the Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Health Clinic. She clasped Maria Elena –- her 7-year old daughter – in her arms. She desperately scanned the waiting area looking for someone, anyone who could help. “Mi hija. Mi hija,” she could barely choke out, her voice dry and dusty from a day and a half of traveling. “Ayuda me.” (“My baby girl. My baby girl. Help me.”) Her daughter’s lips were turning blue.
…to help us sustain a brighter future for the families living in the flood-ravaged villages surrounding our clinic in Nicaragua.
But first, let me tell you the story of a little girl we’ll call Maria Elena…
Rosa Gonzalez yanked open the door to the Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Health Clinic. She clasped Maria Elena –- her 7-year old daughter – in her arms.
She desperately scanned the waiting area looking for someone, anyone who could help.
“Mi hija. Mi hija,” she could barely choke out, her voice dry and dusty from a day and a half of traveling. “Ayuda me.” (“My baby girl. My baby girl. Help me.”) Her daughter’s lips were turning blue.
Almost immediately, a man with kind eyes and a soft face – a doctor who moments earlier had sat down for a much-deserved rest – swept her from her mother’s arms and carried her to a secluded corner of the Clinic.
Maria Elena and her mother’s journey to the Clinic had begun a day and a half earlier on a rattletrap bicycle. Mother and daughter were like many of the Clinic’s visitors who arrive by bicycle (2, 3, or 4 on one bike), on foot, or the once-a-day tika bus…
Visiting the Clinic was a difficult decision for the Gonzales family. They had never visited it before. Although friends had told them that they could get help without paying, Rosa and Santiago couldn’t believe that.
But the little girl’s breathing problems worsened. Santiago had just gotten a few days work for five dollars a day, and the family couldn’t afford to have him not work. So mama took Maria Elena while papa stayed home.
The dust of the roads and the stress of the journey tightened Maria Elena’s lungs every mile. Fortunately, the little girl’s strong spirit won out over her asthma-weakened lungs. She remained conscious until the bike was barely 25 yards from the Clinic’s door. Then she fell unconscious.
A Neighborhood Family Doctor for People
Who Have Seen Little – if Any – Medical Care
Dr. Julio Flores rushed to help Maria Elena. He did a full examination and was convinced Maria Elena suffered from asthma, he prescribed medication in a nebulizer… and instructed Rosa how best to care for her daughter.
This is a story that’s repeated several times over at the Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Clinic. Many of the experiences of the over 700 people who visit the Clinic monthly are not as dramatic as Maria Elena’s, but many are much worse.
**Rosa Gonzales, Maria Elena, and their family are composite characters, drawn from the hundreds of men, women and children who ask for your help today.
The care comes from the hands and caring hearts of Dr. Julio Flores, Nurses Martha Miranda and Carlos Peña, a pharmacist, lab technician, and visiting medical volunteers from around the world.
And the simple fact is: Medical care given at the Clinic is dramatically improving the lives of the people from this area in southwest Nicaragua .
** Like Elias Cabrera, who suffered a partial amputation of two toes on his right foot. Quick work by Dr. Flores and the medical staff reconstructed the toes and the patient recovered well.
** Or the worker at nearby Rancho Santana who suffered a traumatic facial injury to his face, left eye, and cranium in 2006. Dr. Flores performed emergency procedures and stabilized the patient, buying time until he could be safely transported to the main hospital 22 kilometers away.
Of course, many of the 700-plus patients seen monthly (7 days a week) are seen for less serious problems, like allergic reactions, routine medical exams, medical tests, minor injuries, colds and viral infections, and asthma attacks. Four babies have been born there, too!
Unfortunately, asthma presents a special problem in this area and affects many children. The dusty roads, houses with dirt floors, indoor wood stoves, mold and mildew from the extended rainy season all challenge the fragile lungs of newborn babies and can lead to asthma as the children grow.
Good Medical Care Means So Much More Than Better Health
An asthmatic child is less likely to attend school – or develop into a strong, healthy adult who can work in the heat and strenuous conditions this area presents.
Thanks to friends and donors like you, we’re bringing high-quality health care and improved health to people previously unable to get it. And we want to keep expanding and improving the Clinic, because we all know the long-term impact of improved health:
A healthy adult can work more, earn more. Be more productive. A healthy adult can provide and care for the family better. A healthy adult can tend family garden plots, reducing hunger and malnutrition.
Those are benefits right now for the adults who use the Clinic’s many services. But the benefits blossom even more when you’re looking at how young children develop when they receive high-quality care like they do at our Clinic.
A healthy child can go to school more days during the year. An educated child – even in a country as poor as Nicaragua – grows into an educated adult, a skilled adult with much broader and more lucrative job opportunities.
Prevention – Not Treatment – Is the Most Effective Health Care
This brighter outlook for the people served by the Clinic comes not just because the Clinic heals the sick. It comes because the medical staff, the board of directors, and our advisors are all committed to “the missing piece” in most clinics of this sort: Education.
From its inception, the Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Clinic has held regular education programs. These include seminars on breast self-examination, prenatal care, nutrition, and preventive health care issues.
But to my mind, the most exciting part of our health education programs is our increased outreach to youth.
Boys and girls aged 12 to 20 meet regularly with Nurse Martha Miranda. Never judgmental, always forthright and honest, Nurse Martha speaks openly about issues facing these young people, issues to promote well-being and sustained health.
This very popular program is in addition to Dr. Flores’ monthly visit to local schools. During his visits, he passes out donated supplies to the children, supplies like toothbrushes, books, pencils, and notepaper.
Imagine not being able to go to school because a child’s family couldn’t afford the $40 they need to supply shoes, a uniform, backpack, pencil and paper. Unfortunately, this is the case for thousands of children in rural southwest Nicaragua. The Clinic is expanding our outreach beyond medical supplies to educational supplies as well.
Following in a Hero’s Footsteps
But we need your help. We are 100% supported by donations and by any fees for service and medicines that the patient can afford. The Clinic’s community outreach and education programs are free. The high-quality health care is free for children and elders. And it’s available at a very low cost for the working population.
Bottom line, though, is that no one is turned away. We wouldn’t have it any other way. From its founding, the Clinic’s spirit follows the spirit of a true international hero – Pittsburgh Pirates baseball star Roberto Clemente – who, decades ago – died in a plane crash delivering supplies to earthquake-shattered Nicaragua. Clemente embodies the spirit of love for community and sacrifice.
And the small sacrifice I am asking of you is only money, and not that much. Because even $100 goes a long way to support our Clinic’s growth. First, we keep our administrative costs as low as we can, employing volunteers whenever possible. Second, your donation is generously matched 100% by Agora, Inc. So your $100 is actually worth $200 to the Clinic.
A $250 donation will go even further to help us expand our facilities to add another trauma room for surgery and another examining room.
A $500 donation will help us bring on another full-time doctor so we can provide help for Dr. Julio Flores and expand our hours at the clinic.
A $1,000 donation will help us buy the $32,000 ambulance (4-wheel drive SUV) we desperately need for emergency cases that require transport patients to the nearest hospital 45 minutes away. The ambulance must be totally dependable and able to negotiate terrible dirt roads.
Last year, thanks to your generous donations, we fulfilled one of the Clinic’s dreams: to have a dependable source of electricity. We built a back-up energy unit. Now, the Clinic always has an available supply of power that can take over when the local power goes out. Which it does with frightening regularity.
But we are not content to let past successes carry us forward. We have many more dreams for this Clinic, and always need ongoing support just to continue what we are doing now.
So I’m coming to you – to ask that you think about this community this holiday season and give a donation.
Leveraging Your Gift
As I mentioned, for every dollar you donate, Agora, Inc., will donate an additional dollar – doubling the impact of your generosity.
And since the Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Clinic is recognized as exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, you can deduct 100% of your donation from your current taxes.
The Clinic serves more than 10,200 people in the communities surrounding it per year. They are depending on generous people like you to keep the Clinic running effectively. Your donation may be the one that saves a life…
Please click here to get to the donation form. The Clinic depends on your continued support!
If you would like to send a check please Click Here to print a form.
Very sincerely yours,
The Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Health Clinic Inc.
P.S. Please make your tax-deductible donation today; I have a small holiday gift here I would personally like to rush you as my thank you. Plus, Agora Inc., has agreed to a 100% match on all donations for 2007!
P.P.S. With a donation of $1,000 or more, we would like to place your name on a plaque at the Clinic. A donation of $5,000 or more will also give you 2 free-nights stay at the Rancho Santana Resort on the stunning Pacific Coast.