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The Nicaraguan grandma bringing health and hope to her village

San Jerónimo village in north-eastern Nicaragua has a big problem with healthcare. The nearest health facility is 27 miles away, which can only be reached by trekking through dense jungle or somehow crossing the Río Coco. Santa Elena had seen too many people she knew die unnecessarily and was determined to do something to help.

Prayer team | 26 Aug 2016

Imagine if your nearest healthcare facility was 27 miles away, with only two ways to reach it: trekking through dense jungle, or braving the waters of Central America’s Río Coco.

These were the choices available to grandmother Santa Elena and her indigenous community in San Jerónimo village, north-eastern Nicaragua. In fact the entire Caribbean region of the country, which covers 55 per cent of the territory, only has three public hospitals.

A particular problem in Santa Elena’s village was maternal mortality and malaria, especially in the June to October rainy season when mosquitoes are rife. Year after year she saw people die unnecessarily from illness or injury.

But then Santa Elena met Tearfund’s partner in the country Acción Médica Cristiana (AMC). AMC is working with indigenous communities, training community leaders like her to become health promoters.

She was determined to make the most of this and help her community. Now she and others in the village have been trained, Santa Elena says, ‘I’m grateful, grateful, grateful to AMC and Tearfund for providing training for us! They have taught us how to deal with malaria, clean wounds, deal with snake bites, taught us how to suture, apply serum. We know how to inject, have had midwife training…’

Thanks to her new-found knowledge, Santa Elena is already making a huge difference to her community. She says, ‘People don’t die as frequently as before. Children have better nutrition, maternal and childbirth mortality rates have decreased, and we have better knowledge to prevent new diseases.’

It is still a struggle to get hold of medicine and to ensure villagers have the correct vitamins to keep them healthy. But thanks to your generosity and prayers and the determination of people like Santa Elena, this remote community has made a huge leap forward in improving health and securing a brighter future.


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The rather mysteriously named Prayer Team is made up of a number of writers working closely with country and development experts in the UK and overseas.

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