Today, in a small Zapotec village in Oaxaca Mexico, a homeopathic doctor is seeing patients who before she came did not have adequate healthcare. The fact of the matter is that before she opened her clinics, the people had no regular medical service. The doctor is unique because she lives in the rural community where she works and because she lives there, better understands the medical needs of its people. She is A Promise of Health doctor.
Soon she will be joined by another homeopathic doctor who will work in another remote, rural part of Oaxaca. Together they will have day clinics in at least 8 villages. People coming to the villages to seek medical help from the doctors will come from at least another dozen villages. Among them are vulnerable children of all ages. The need for medical care among the indigenous communities in rural Oaxaca is great and there are not enough doctors who are willing to stray from the big cities to help.
Indigenous people all across Mexico have historically been the have-nots. The conditions today are no different. In Oaxaca, indigenous people live in the poorest regions. Their land is eroded from years of exploitation and many men have left their villages to seek work elsewhere to support their families. Left behind are the elderly, women and especially the children. They live in poverty, often in rural and remote villages without access to doctors and medicine.
A sad fact is this. Rural Oaxaca has the highest infant mortality rate in all of Latin America. The main causes of death in children 14 years of age or less are infections, intestinal diseases, malnutrition and respiratory disease —- all are preventable! In children under 5 years old, malnutrition and protein deficits are the biggest killers. Those who survive often have irreversible physical and intellectual damage that follows them all of their lives.
The mission of A Promise of Health is to bring as many homeopathic doctors and medicine to indigenous rural communities in Oaxaca as it can, recognizing that they are in desperate need of medical care.
Most treated illnesses by age category (ranked most to least)
How it all started
It has been nearly a dozen years since founder Barbara Grannell came up with the idea to start A Promise of Health, a project that was destined to touch many lives for the better and today continues to offer that promise, that good health can be a commodity in which we all can share.
A Promise of Health launched its first medical program in July 2001 in the small village of Huhi. It is a rural Maya pueblo in southwestern Yucatan Mexico. With a part time homeopathic doctor from Merida, the capital city, and 2 boxes of various homeopathic remedies our organization opened a Saturday clinic.
The first day was a harbinger of what was to come! Early that morning a long line of people wanting to see the doctor stretched out into the street and each Saturday thereafter the clinic was crowded with patients. It was only a short time before the program added a day. At the end of the second year A Promise of Health served 5 villages and drew patients from many more.
It wasn’t long before A Promise of Health had added more homeopathic doctors and was serving 25 Maya communities in rural Yucatan. The organization’s doctors saw more than 65,000 patients! During that time the doctors treated an incredible number of patients each day for all types of acute and chronic physical and mental illness.
Indigenous people understood and trusted natural medicine – which is a foundation of Homeopathy. An added advantage beyond its effectiveness to cure, homeopathic medicine is much more reasonable to purchase and unlike allopathic medicine, has no side effects.
In December 2008, A Promise of Health thought its work was possibly done. In Yucatan it had helped many people and had proved its homeopathic health care model successful. But, nothing could have been further from the truth.
Let’s fast forward to today!
The same needs that first inspired Barbara Grannell to bring medical care to the remote rural villages of Huhi, Yucatan, exist in thousands of rural indigenous communities across Latin America and the Caribbean.
A Promise of Health hasn’t stopped working. It has taken its knowledge to develop medical programs in Mexico’s poorest state, Oaxaca.
Our doctor is Soledad Ramirez Medina and she lives in the Zapotec community of Ayoquezco de Aldama, Oaxaca. Each week she visits the close-by pueblos of Santa Cruz Nexila, El Rincon de San Pedro and Agua Blanca.
She was first trained as an allopathic physician and practiced medicine in the capital city of Oaxaca Juarez. After experiencing the amazing healing properties of homeopathy, her career changed. Studying at the graduate school of homeopathic medicine at Oaxaca’s university, she became an avid doctor of homeopathy.
In April 2010, Dr. Soledad came to A Promise of Health to begin work in these rural Zapotec communities. Married and the mother of two young children, it was a sacrifice to move her family into the small, cramped quarters in the medical building donated by the municipal government of Ayoquezco. But like all things she does, she did it with rare enthusiasm.
Each week, her morning starts early. Her first duty is to her family. It is only after a hastily prepared breakfast with them that she is then ready to start her professional day with patients. After donning her medical coat and arranging her medicines, she opens her office door to find waiting for her a long line of people seeking medical care – most of whom are women with children.
On Mondays she is only in her office to see patients for a short time. Then she loads her medicine, medical records and equipment into her car and drives to Santa Cruz Nexilia, about 15 miles distant. There she unpacks and again sets up her office in a small clinic provided to her by the municipal agent. As in Ayoquezco, there are patients waiting. On Thursdays and Fridays, the routine is the same, except on these days she packs up
for visits to San Pedro El Rincon and Agua Blanca.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays she stays in Ayoquezco de Aldama. Tuesday is market day in Ayoquezco with people traveling there to sell or buy fresh farm products. On this day Dr. Soledad has patients from many different communities and lines form early.
Everyday, she returns home to her family, exhausted from her work, to again be a mother to her children and a wife to her husband, Arturo. It is only late at night that she has time to write in her daily diary about the days events and has time to reflect upon the day’s trials and tribulations.
When the family first moved to Ayoquezco, her husband Arturo worked in Oaxaca, commuting each day. But, Dr. Soledad needed help with both her family and the clinics. Now he is helping her as a full time partner, caregiver for the children and her right hand assisting in her medical work. They are a team!
Two case studies
“Everyday, the majority of my patients are children. Many are infants suffering from complications of their illnesses. Dehydration is common as are the effects of malnutrition. Among the older children I see illness that is associated with mental trauma. Here are two cases that come to mind.
“I have a young male patient who I will call Juan. He is 10 years old and comes from the community of El Rincon de San Pedro, Zimitlan, Oaxaca.
“He came the first time for a consultation in May 2011. He said he had pain in his groin on the left side and that was accentuated when he strained his body from work. Palpation revealed he had a hernia in his groin on the left side that is approximately 4cm in diameter without vascular involvement.
“When starting with my homeopathic medical history the child told me that about 4 years ago his mother died of cervical cancer and as a result he felt a great sadness and depression. He said he experienced inconsolable grief ever since.
“He told me he does not have a good relationship with his father and that his older brother beats him. By this time he was in tears. He told he did not know what to do about his relationship with his family and said his father did not have the resources for his operation.
“I let the patient know what I would attempt to do, without ruling out surgery if there was no improvement. I took as the guiding symptom, his loss of a loved one and his profound grief. I prescribed Ignatia Amara 0/2LM PLUS, 50 drops each 24 hours upon awakening.
“Following the consultation I gave him his first medication and then he left. He returned later in January and said when he first took the medication he felt a strong pain his groin and later he observed that the hernia was smaller. He said he no longer paid attention to it thinking it would disappear. Then his father sent him back to school and in the afternoons into the fields to work. Later that month the hernia returned and
he had pains in that same region.
“I noted that it had increased in volume. He told me he was molested by the sun and each day he felt constant sadness, cried and desired to be alone. This time I prescribed Natrum Muriaticum 30 C, 1 spoonful every 8 hours.
“The following week when he returned to me the pain had already disappeared and the hernia was much smaller in diameter. In the face of the improvement, I increased the strength of the same medication to 0/2LM unique doses. He came for an appointment two weeks later and his mental symptoms had improved greatly. He now smiles and he tells me he eats and plays as any other boy. His hernia no longer causes pain
and has reduced greatly in volume.
“I have another patient I want to tell everyone about. She is a female patient who I shall call Ana. She is 11 years old and is from the pueblo of Santa Cruz Nexila.
“She came to me with her mother the very first time for a consultation in November of last year. The girl was very broken hearted from lesions she had on her leg and arm. She and her mother told me they had begun two weeks earlier. They started as eruptions of abnormal redness of the skin with intense itching which than caused them to become ulcerated. Each day the lesion on the girl’s leg increased in diameter until it was approximately 8cm on the face of her right leg. The lesion on her right forearm started in the same manner. She told me the itch increased in the mornings.
“When I examined them they both were covered with a crusty scab.
“During the consultation, I then directed my questions to the mother about the character of my patient. She told me that the girl had a very strong anger toward her older brother that she could not compensate. She told me the girl had a very strong character, that she was aggressive and impulsive. Often she was hypersensitive, and jealous.
“Following my examination and questioning of the patient and her mother, my homeopathic diagnosis was the child suffered from a hypersensitive, pent up anger that manifested itself in these eruptions. I prescribed unique doses of Nux Vomica 0/6LM and made an appointment to see the girl the following week.
“At the next visit, the lesions on her leg had stopped and were no longer ulcerated. It was in the process of scaring. The right forearm was in the same condition.
“Thereafter, I saw the girl 4 times (every two weeks) and both lesions had disappeared. The only sign of injury were slight pigmented stain. Her mother tells me the girl no longer behaves as before. Now she is very peaceful, cheerful and the relationship with its brother
has improved considerably. The girl appeared to be very happy since the lesions have disappeared and she told me that now, each day she desires to go to the school to be with her friends.”
“Life here is very hard for many children. Unlike children in the city, they are often forced to work in the fields to help their families. Family stress only adds to their woes and often results in illness.”
More than a doctor
For Dr. Soledad, her focus is not just on her patients. She is concerned with the overall health of the communities she serves. She has organized village meetings to discuss general health concerns and homeopathic medicine. She has instructed children in schools in hygiene and nutrition. Professionally she is active with an association of her fellow doctors who are all graduates of the homeopathic graduate program at the University of Oaxaca.
She is a tireless advocate for A Promise of Health and its program in Oaxaca. Last year she was invited as a speaker at a homeopathic congress of physicians in Mazatlan. This year, in August, she will speak at a larger gathering of homeopathic physicians in Oaxaca Juarez.
Proudly of Mixtec heritage, Dr. Soledad wants to see A Promise of Health’s medical program grow to include the Mixteca. We are now in the process of making this expansion and she has already recruited a homeopathic doctor who is willing to live and practice medicine there. Once achieved, this means a doctor and medicine for an additional 5 community clinics with many feeder communities being served as well.
“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” Mother Teresa.
The difference between our early work in Yucatán and now goes beyond the enthusiasm and professionalism of our doctor. It is also our strong partnership with Oaxaca migrant groups in the United States.
Sadly, these connections did not exist in Yucatán. Today, A Promise of Health has groups of allies who advocate our cause. They are a voice in the pueblos and from their individual members come financial support. It is upon that support that our organization is building sustainability.
Today, A Promise of Health is looking for partners across the world that will financially support our cause. It is looking for donors, large and small, who will invest in making the promise of health a reality in the thousands of rural indigenous villages across Mexico and beyond.
Oaxaca is Mexico’s poorest state. 75% of the people live in extreme poverty and more than 1/2 of the people have no access to medical care. As more money becomes available, A Promise of Health will add doctors to its program in Oaxaca with a goal to expand where needed in all Mexico, Latin America and beyond.
The homeopathic health care model of A Promise of Health has proven to be the most cost effective and beneficial rural medical program for Mexico. It is a model that can work in indigenous communities worldwide. Your financial support helps to sustain and grow the program.
Donations by credit card can be made to PayPal at the Promise of Health website.
Donations can also be mailed directly to A Promise of Health, P.O. Box 247, Hiawatha, Iowa 52233.
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