Community Health and HIV

Paraguay: Feeding Spirits

 

September 2016 marked the end of a 3-year project in the South American nation of Paraguay to provide health and medical services to one of the world's most vulnerable communities. Although the initial mission wrapped up late last year, support to the impoverished urban area continues via a continuation project.

Over the course of the mission, the Tekokatu Medical Center, operated by regional Salvation Army personnel with funding with technical support from The Salvation Army World Service Office, has directly benefited 2002 women, 229 men and 562 children. It offers services at prices ranging from 30 to 58 percent less than other health centers in the area, and offers services to some qualifying patients at no charge.

Of course, it's faster, easier and cheaper to work with people who are still healthy than with the unhealthy, and the clinics's clients are better off that way too. In addition to primary health care services, the clinic provides assistance and education to its participants through nutrition programs and workshops.

The goal is twofold: To educate participants on how to establish healthy, nutritious diets for their families and provide them with the resources they need to maintain their newly-developed eating habits.

Clinic personnel identify children at risk of being malnourished and refer them to the Milk & Oats program. After a thorough screening process to detemine the child's needs and eligibility, participants receive supplies of milk, oats, fruits, vegetables, eggs and vitamins over the course of six months.

Mothers of Milk & Oats children are invited to participate in an eight-month series of nutrition workshops, where they receive training on how to keep their families healthy long-term. A total of six groups -- three at the clinic and three more in neighborhoods nearby -- learn how to prepare healthy, nutritious, affordable meals using locally-available foods.

125 women -- ranging in age from 17 to 70 -- completed the nutrition program. Many stated that they believed, prior to the workshop, that eating healthy was too expensive. The course introduced them to inexpensive, nutritious staples such as soy beans.

Thanks to the cooperation of our local partners and the generosity of our donors, these programs -- along with others such as de-worming, vaccinations, Baby Song, family planning, and responsible maternity programs -- The Salvation Army World Services Office has improved hundreds of lives in Paraguay.