Three times a year, missionaries from Holy Family Mission travel at their own expense to Cevicos to staff a clinic that provides basic health care in the town and in the surrounding villages (campos). Each group is made up of 10 - 14 adults, among them a medical doctor, nurses, and other dedicated professionals. They bring medical supplies donated by family and friends, local pharmacies, or by international health collaboratives such as MAP International.
Our locally based partners, Las Hermanas del Rosario del Fatima, arrange for the missionaries and local medical professionals to hold several clinics during their week there. Over the course of the week, missionaries may see nearly 1,000 patients at those clinics and during home visits. Clinics are set up in chapels and schools and often the entire population of the outlying villages - newborn babies, schoolchildren, their parents, workers from the fields and elderly men and women - take this rare opportunity to consult with health care professionals - sometimes walking many miles over rough terrain to do so.
Occasionally we meet, or are referred to, a patient with more complicated than usual health issues. We work with the sisters to find the best possible care for these patients, and in several cases, have brought children to be treated at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston.
As George Lieser, Mission Coordinator, notes,
"We have alleviated the painful stomach aches and skin sores that result from the parasites in contaminated drinking and bathing water for thousands of children and adults during the past 20 years of medical missions."
For several years, Holy Family Mission supported a microfinancing program through which we provided loans to small business owners in Cevicos. Ranging from $500 to $1,000, these loans helped form or grow businesses which were often owned by women. The loans provided the income that lifts families out of extreme poverty, allowing them to purchase adequate food and other essentials for their families. Our success rate on collections of the more than 60 loans given to date has been over 95% and we hope to resume this program in the future as we are able.
Holy Family Mission supports the educational efforts of young adults from Cevicos who are community-minded and who volunteer to work at our medical clinics. More than a dozen students have taken a first challenging step out of poverty by achieving a university education. These students give our mission and the entire town great hope for the future.