How it all began!
Happy 22nd Birthday – A Promise of Health
Humans are creatures of habit. We generally, but not always, like a routine. Comfort often comes from knowing the things we depend upon will be here tomorrow.
In our lives, though we have experienced a lot of change, sometimes just thinking about what it might bring can make us pretty nervous. But experience also teaches us that often, the changes we worry about most, seldom turn out quite as dire as we imagined.
Thankfully, this is not a story of what we worry about. Instead, it is a story how one person sought to solve a problem with change and how her grand idea inspired so many of us to help make that change. A change that brings new hope to thousands of the forgotten, hopefully for decades to come!
This is a story of changing lives for the better. This is the story of A Promise of Health, that began its work by bringing a doctor and medicine to Mexico’s indigenous people. Before we came, they had no dependable healthcare of any kind.
It began 22 years ago this March.
Starting as just a vacation to Yucatan, Mexico, Barbara and Bill Grannell went there in the late 1990’s, first as tourists.
Both of us had just retired. It was winter in Colorado where we lived and it just seemed like a fun idea. We had read about the incredible ruins of an ancient civilization, the Maya, the beaches of Yucatan, and most of all, as we all can understand this winter, it was warm.
As it turned out, it was an incredible adventure and so each winter thereafter, we returned, again and again. Every year we extended our visits until at last we decided the Yucatan’s winter was for us. We bought an old colonial house in historic Merida that needed tons of work, rolled up our sleeves and with Maya workers, restored the house to its former glory.
In our first years, we became good friends with many Merida families. We learned and became passionate about their culture, music and art. Importantly, we learned that not only ancient Maya had built incredible cities, but they continued to exist to this very day. Today, 2/3 of people living in Yucatan, identify as Maya and are Mexico’s second largest population of indigenous people.
From friends in Merida, we became acquainted with Maya who lived in its small villages. One family in particular, who lived an hour and half south of Merida in the village of Huhi, became our very close friends.
In 2000, in Merida, we bought a VW bug, so we became much more mobile. Then, during our winter sojourns, we explored more and more Maya villages. We learned how the people lived in their small huts of thatch and adobe. We saw the “milpa” where Maya men cleared a bit of rain forest and planted their corn using only a planting stick as had their ancestors.
In Huhi, at the home of our friends, we ate Maya food women prepared over an open fire. Sometimes we stayed overnight, sleeping in homemade woven hammocks. From the family we heard stories of ancient Maya, explored the village and nearby forests. Fascinated, we learned Maya expressions and words.
I was particularly curious about the Maya’s use of medicinal plants that seemed to grow in abundance. Barbara was enamored by the people. We both admired their strength of character and ability to always make the best of the hard life they lived.
Across the Yucatan peninsula are hundreds of small villages scattered in its rain forests. Most are remote, off the tourist grid, and the people live as did their ancestors for centuries, growing corn to feed their families and if there is a surplus, trading it for life’s necessities. Barbara’s curiosity, led her to ask all manner of questions about Maya life. Neither of us spoke Maya and in those days, very limited Spanish.
In Huhi we noticed a fairly large modern building that turned out to be their health clinic. It had been built by Mexico’s government in the 1950s with a plan to staff it with a fulltime nurse and visiting doctors who came on a regular schedule.
In the intervening years, the promise of regular doctor visits upon which villagers could depend, became more or less hit and miss visits – nothing anyone could depend upon.
The fulltime nurse also disappeared. Much of the time the “clinic” stood empty. Worse yet, when doctors were there, they only had with them an antibiotic, which they used to treat virtually everything.
Of course, it didn’t work, but not to the surprise of Huhi’s residents. It was only one promise in a long line of broken promises Mexico’s government had made to its indigenous population.
This led to Barbara one day saying to me, “You need to be less interested in Maya plants, and maybe more interested in how we could help the village have decent healthcare.”
Over time, this led to many more discussions and thoughts about how this could be accomplished.
Before our visits to the Yucatan, Barbara had suffered from periods of anxiety followed by depression. Our attempts to find help in allopathic medicine achieved nothing. To the contrary, sometimes the medications prescribed only magnified her malady.
It was in Merida, Yucatan, that a homeopathic doctor, Dr. Oscar Rosado, had performed what we thought was a miracle and she was cured. It was 2001, and Oscar was about to retire from his regular practice. That is when the idea hit Barbara. She had just returned to the United States and I was still in Merida with my crew of Maya, putting the final touches on our Merida home.
Late one afternoon in March, she called me in Merida and told me her idea. She asked if I would take Oscar to dinner that night and propose he join us in bringing homeopathy to Huhi. For starts, we suggested a visit by Oscar every Saturday.
He thought it over and then said YES. I called Barbara late that night and told her that Oscar accepted our proposal.
Then, we had to roll up our sleeves. Before I left, I returned to Huhi to meet with the municipal president to get his blessing. As it turned out, he was very excited about the idea and offered to help all he could. When I returned to the U.S. shortly afterward, we met in Salem, Oregon with an attorney friend whom we knew from my days in Oregon’s legislature and with another personal friend, our CPA.
We drew up the papers to incorporate A Promise of Health as a nonprofit charity and we were off and running!
It was an exhilarating time! A welcome byproduct of this initial work was that both our attorney and CPA became board directors who ended up serving many years.
Of course, there was much more to the organization and operation of A Promise of Health. There was much work yet to do in both the U.S. and Mexico. It was then that I made a promise to Barbara that she could have my services for 1 year. That my friends, was 22 years ago. Today I am still going strong with a volunteer commitment that grows deeper and deeper each year.
Isn’t it incredible how Barbara’s idea, which started with wanting to help one village have a doctor and medicine that the people could depend upon, changed history for many Yucatan Maya and now for Zapotec and Mixtec families in Oaxaca’s Mixtec communities?
I also ask, hasn’t it changed our world a little bit too? It forever changed mine. I am amazed that during these 22 years, working in both Yucatan and Oaxaca, A Promise of Health has brought a homeopathic doctor and homeopathy’s healing medicine to nearly 110,000 patients.
What an incredible achievement for our charity, A Promise of Health! What a remarkable story of how one woman’s desire and determination to help people who could not help themselves became an international effort to help indigenous people of Mexico have, at last, dependable medical care. Happy Birthday A Promise of Health!
At last, at Dr. Soledad’s APOH clinic in Yuanhuitlan, Oaxaca, the weather is warming. For now, the rains have stopped. Daytime temperatures are now in the upper 70s with night time temperature hovering at 43 to 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring is on the way!
Dr. Soledad writes that winter weather this year was colder than normal, with cold rain showers and always wind. Her house and the clinic, like all buildings in the village have no heat with the exception of a cooking fire in primitive homes and an even rarer fireplace.
Sadly, a heated home is not the custom in the Mixtec communities. So, when it gets colder, people put on more clothing and sleep under warm blankets.
Dr. Soledad’s home and clinic are no exception. There is no heating in the house save 3 electric space heaters that APOH purchased for the clinic. She uses one in her office. The others are moved from place to place, depending upon the evening’s activities.
In Oaxaca’s Mixtec communities, winter nights are something to be endured, not enjoyed.
With cold breezy nights and winter winds, old complaints of aches and pains among the elderly became a chorus for Dr. Soledad to treat. Children seem to pass their colds, with runny noses and coughs, on to their brothers and sisters, their parents and then on to their school chums.
Besides all of these consultations from her past patients, she has seen 129 new patients from the first of this year, January 2, through February 24. Villagers have found the clinic!
Each week, in Dr. Soledad’s report she shares with us some histories of those she has treated. Let us share with you 2 cases as an example of the patients she treats. These are all in her own words, just as she wrote them.
“Mr. Zenaido is 76 years old. He came to my office for the first time on January 27. He told me that he is very sad and worried about his kidneys.
He told me that he had an exam last year by a government doctor who told him his right kidney was only functioning at 30% and his left kidney wasn’t working at all.
He was very anxious to know if I could help. His blood pressure was abnormally high which he said had always been true. He told me that 5 years ago he had an operation to remove 3 kidney stones but surgeons could only remove one. He was told the other two had embedded themselves in the skin of the urinary tract. He presented me with his laboratory studies that were done in Oaxaca Juarez.”
The studies showed he had high uric acid, urea and creatinine. After completing my consultation, I prescribed Lycopodium clavatum 30C. I had him take I tablespoon in dilution every 12 hours. In my consultation with him, I assured him that I could help.
On February 8, he returned to the clinic for a consultation. His blood pressure is now much better. Now it is in the normal range. He tells me that he was feeling well and he no longer has to urinate frequently. I told him to continue the medication I prescribed and return in 2 weeks. I believe this treatment has the possibility to dissolve the stones and with a proper diet and fluids, future stones can be avoided.”
Ivonne Mendoza Palma
“Ivonne is 12 years old. Her mother first brought her to my office on Monday, February 7. She told me that 8 days earlier, Ivonne began to have an attack of intense pain in the region of her left side, just below her ribs.
Her mother wondered if all this had been caused by what she had eaten. She also told me that Ivonne suffers from allergies to milk, all milk derivatives and from many fresh vegetables and fruit. Eating these foods can cause her to get very sick, vomiting, and sometimes hives.
Ivonne and her mother both told me that this was not the first time for this attack. Before, when it occurred, sometimes the pain was so intense that she fainted.
Ivonne’s mother said she has lost a lot of weight and her abdomen is now very swollen. Also, because of her condition, Ivonne’s character changed. Now she became unreasonably angry.
I prescribed Nux vomica 30C, having her take 1 tablespoon in dilution every 2 hours and return in a week.
On February 13, they returned. Ivonne’s mother said she hasn’t had another episode and appeared calmer. I had her take 1 tablespoon of the same dilution in my office that I prepared and told her mother to repeat this, every 8 hours. I believe she is suffering from Chromes disease.
Kevin Hamdorf is a new Director, elected by a unanimous vote of APOH’s Board of Directors on February 3.
Kevin, son of APOH Treasurer Wes Hamdorf, has been assisting his father with APOH financial reporting since August 29, 2019. During the past 3 ½ years, it is Kevin who receives, records and deposits all donations, no small job.
Both Kevin and his wife Karla are strong supporters of A Promise of Health and its mission to help support Dr. Soledad’s clinic in the Mixtec community of Yanhuitlan, Oaxaca. Kevin’s father, Wes, is now 86 years old and wants to have more time to “smell the roses.” He has agreed though to continue as Treasurer for now, with Kevin at his side.
Most of Kevin’s career was with Rockwell Collins, noted for its production of avionic communication such as flight control instruments. There he worked as assembly operator for 14 years until his retirement. He and his wife live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“It feels good giving back to society by helping others,” says APOH’s new director.
THANKS TO OUR GENEROUS DONORS!
Without you there would not be A Promise of Health! We’re not a large nonprofit who receives its donations from many faceless donors. Instead, we are blessed to know each of you and are always impressed by your generosity and loyalty to our cause.
Many of you have been with us for more than a decade. Some of you have been donors since the beginning. All of you have been an integral part of our incredible journey, sharing in APOH’s highs and lows in our goal to simply bring a doctor and medicine to Mexico’s indigenous poor.
We appreciate and are grateful for each and every one of you!
In many ways it’s a miracle that continues not only for thousands of God’s children in the small northern villages of Oaxaca’s Mixtec region, but for all of us as well. We’re family and friends, together, serving our fellow man.
It’s an honor to know you! May God bless you all. Onward and Upward!