La Mano of Hope

3 Days with No Food and a Painful Hug

La MANO of HOPE brings HOPE to El Salvador, March 2017

Medical team completes its objective of bringing assistance in EcuadorMaria approached, with her sad demeanor, advancing very slowly. She came to the clinic alone and spoke only of the aching she had in her arm. Her suffering was painfully obvious by the look on her face full of uncertainty yet faith.

“I haven’t eaten in 3 days and my arm really hurts from a fall I took a few days ago,” this 80-year-old Maria stated.
La MANO of HOPE had arrived at a place in El Salvador known as Sacacoyo in La Libertad. As is the custom to visit impoverished communities, the organization was there giving medical attention by hosting a medical clinic as well as a soccer camp for the day. 11 North Americans, among them doctors, nurses and other volunteers, were collaborating in the outreach.

Dr. Jill Ciccarelli attended to the needs directly, giving Maria her own emergency food supply that was in her back pack. Maria initially refused to eat the contents in the small food pack, to the doctor’s surprise.
Watching this scene, Dr. Jill, the medical director of La MANO of HOPE, took care of the elderly woman’s medical needs thoroughly. This North American doctor, who has had a great deal of experience in international projects and has seen many difficult situations in her travels in medical outreaches in other countries fell apart in that moment and with tremendous compassion and sadness in her tear-filled eyes said, “it’s like she had the most extravagant meal of her life in her hands.

She fell apart in that moment and with tremendous compassion and sadness in her tear-filled eyes said, “it’s like she had the most extravagant meal of her life in her hands…”

She did not want to eat without first offering a prayer of thanks to God and then wanted to share the small tuna pouch with others around her.

In that moment of love, hope, compassion and gratitude, the doctor secretly dried her eyes and continued her work as always, offering Maria the best professional care.Maria received the diagnosis of a broken arm, treatment and medicine totally free of charge. She hugged the doctor and all those who had gathered around her. Sobbing, she said goodbye, giving thanks to the workers and to God. It was a sad, yet fulfilling moment to know that someone with great need received help.

The team went further to then go buy basic groceries including rice, beans, cheese and flour to make tortillas, thanks to Dr. Jill. Additionally, we found transportation for Maria and she showed us her home, which had no running water and no electricity because she had no resources to pay for those services. According to what she shared with us, her family had abandoned her several months prior, leaving her alone in a situation full of difficulties. “I just want you to know that you are angels that have come from heaven to give me all of this”, Maria said, as she hugged us and cried.

La MANO of HOPE gave medical assistance to more than 150 people that came to Sacacoyo from different surrounding communities and they offered the services and the medicine, as always, completely free of charge. This particular day was one near the end of their week of outreach and the medicines were nearly out. The team was rather anxious at day’s start, realizing that they only had enough medicines left for possibly 100 people. But miraculously the medicines never ran out and no one was turned away without receiving what they had need of. Additionally, nearly 50 young people, including children and youth, participated in the soccer camp hosted by the outreach team at the nearby soccer field.

At the end of the 8-day project in El Salvador, the team had visited 7 different communities around the northern part of the country and in the capital city of San Salvador and during those clinics attended to some 1,300 patients, including children and adults. In addition to the North Americans, several Salvadorian nationals volunteered, helping with translation and collaborating in the different activities that the team presented.

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