Giving Hope Along The Border — Part 2


By Theresa Otteni, R.N.

Pediatric Alliance — Northland


(Yesterday on The PediaBlog, Terri introduced us the team of dedicated medical, dental, and nutritional care providers for the Youth With A Mission ministry in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.)


We saw lots of people with untreated conditions that were chronic, like asthma and hypertension. Because we had a pharmacy station on site, we were able to get them started on medications. Interestingly enough, in Mexico, only narcotics and antibiotics are controlled by prescriptions. For any other medication, be it Metformin for diabetes, or Lisinopril for high blood pressure, anyone can walk into a pharmacy and get the needed medication over-the-counter, at much less expense than in the United States.

My pharmacy pal for the week, Ruth the dietician.

We used Google Translator to overcome the language barrier.

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Some of our patients were startling. We saw an otherwise robust man in his mid-thirties who was being led through our clinic by his spouse. He had severe swelling to the area around one eye, but blurry vision with both eyes. He had such extreme hypertension that had gone untreated for so long that it affected his eyes. We got him started on medication in the clinic, kept him around for several hours to monitor the effects, gave him medication for home, and got him in contact with long term help. By partnering with local churches, we have the ability to follow up and provide resources for the people we treated.

Setting up dental supplies alfresco.

Lots of fresh air in this clinic, a newly-relocated community center that routinely helps 70 neighborhood children a week with a homework club and after-school snack. This center was started by a local man who was able to work himself out of this rough neighborhood and was now coming back to help others.

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The thread I repeatedly witnessed with everyone involved — from the local church bodies to the professionals who donated their skills — was the same: they wanted to be able to give back to their communities and to the people of Juarez. No matter how much or how little these people had, they shared. At one venue, there was no bathroom — sort of a dicey situation for the staff when you have to drink to stay hydrated in the desert heat but have no way to relieve yourself! The first patients of the day, a husband and wife who lived next door to the community center where we set up the clinic, offered to let us use their bathrooms. At another church, where their facilities would be considered very primitive by most U.S. standards, they had hosts all day that would come around with cold bottled water for the staff and treats like fresh sliced watermelon.

The dentists and doctor were amazing. The dentists were all young and owned their own practices, so they could not afford to close their own businesses for the week. They would work with us from 9AM until 2PM each day, then see patients in their own practices until 9PM each evening. The surgeon was just as dedicated; he would work with us, then go to  a busy twelve-hour shift at the hospital from 7PM to 7AM each day.

Doing dental work in recliners. 

The clinic setups were complete and self-sufficient; no source of power or water at this venue.

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My husband and I were moved by these warm, caring people who are trying to make their way through life, trying to support families and each other in a harsh area of the world. Although we were thanked profusely by the local people wherever we served, what we gained from being able to participate was immeasurable.

If you would like to know more about this border ministry that has served the people of Juarez for decades, you can go to the Youth With A Mission website here. Both YWAM and Los Ranchos Amigos can be followed on Facebook.