When flying over the lush mountains, Guatemala appears to be a rich, vibrant country. But a closer look reveals that half the population lives in poverty, lacking health care and education.
Pedro Pineda was well aware of this reality. As a farmer, Pedro spent every day pushing a plow. His life didn’t challenge him; he wanted to do more. That’s when he met an American nurse named Ruth.
Ruth Humbert was an RN from the Community of Christ Health Ministries Association (HMA) who backpacked into Guatemala’s isolated mountain villages to provide health care for isolated families. Pedro was fascinated and wanted to help.
“One person alone cannot do this,” Ruth told him. “Many things affect people’s health such as smoky wood stoves and lack of good food. We need to partner: me with more staff and clinics. And residents with solutions for their daily needs.”
Ruth had learned from Outreach International how to empower people to work on their own behalf. “I would like to learn that,” said Pedro. “And learn to be a nurse.”
So Ruth enlisted Pedro and others to train as nurses. Pedro traveled with Ruth for on-the-job training without pay while his wife and children ran his farm. And he went to train with Outreach International. “Helping people solve their problems is as important as learning to be a nurse,” Ruth said.
Pedro and the other nurses helped Ruth set up 10 traveling clinics in the mountain villages, each seeing 200 patients, and encouraging patients to solve lifestyle problems that impacted their health. As a result, people replaced smoky wood stoves with new ones that were vented to the outside, reducing respiratory distress. They obtained clean water filters and grew their own vegetables.
The Outreach International training was so powerful that Pedro worked with others in his own village to turn a lagoon into a tilapia pond for food and income. “What I learned from Outreach International helped me involve patients in their own care, but also was a process I used to help my own village,” Pedro explained.
Pedro is still a farmer, but also a nurse and a facilitator for change. Outreach International empowers people in Sustainable Good because it’s the good that’s energized in the people themselves. Like Ruth Humbert, RN, and Pedro Pineda of Guatemala.
Now 2000 patients a month have access to preventative health care from 10 clinics.