It shouldn’t matter where in the world you are born, but it does! The poor in developing countries bear a disproportionate burden of communicable diseases and health issues. They have increased exposure and risk through malnutrition, lack of affordable health care services, poor health and unsafe living conditions. Ultimately, it results in a much shorter life, for so many.
Chagas Prevention and Treatment (Bolivia)
Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in South America, has the largest number of cases in the world with about 10% of the population infected with Chagas disease. It is transmitted by the Vinchuca insect, which thrives in adobe walls and thatched roofs used in poorer homes. The parasite enters the victim’s bloodstream and can live undetected for decades while quietly destroying internal organs, especially the heart. If caught in time, Chagas can be treated and home renovations can protect families. However, the costs for medical care and construction supplies are far beyond the means of the poor who are most affected. CBM’s Chagas project provides awareness education, blood testing campaigns, supervised medical treatment for those in early stages of the disease, and renovation of homes. CBM also sends short-term mission teams to work with Bolivian families and volunteers in this program.
HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care (Guardians of Hope, Africa)
There were approx 36.7 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2016 and an estimated 5,000 new infections per day. Sub-Saharan Africa remains most severely affected, accounting for nearly two-thirds of people living with HIV worldwide. They face social stigma, fear and isolation, as there is no cure. There is, however, medical treatment that can improve health and prolong life. CBM’s Guardians of Hope (GOH) program supports partner churches in Africa who are working to break the stigma and provide care for those most impacted through support groups that help children to go to school; help families earn income with goats and other livestock, seeds & farming tools, and skills training; as well as prevention and awareness education, access to testing and medicine and spiritual counsel. One GOH project is in Kenya’s coastal community of Kwale County, where 1 in 20 people are infected by HIV – one of the highest rates in the world. It was one of the sites of last year’s Kamp Tumaini, an opportunity for orphans and vulnerable children/youth impacted by HIV and AIDS to come together and talk about the challenges they face, receive awareness education, counsel and encouragement. Youth from Canadian Baptist churches raised project funds and participated in the camps to encourage youth in Kenya.
Meet Jon and His Family
Meet John and his family. They live all the way over in Bolivia. Let’s hear his story.
I live in a small village surrounded by mountains. Most of us are poor. Our house has just one room where all nine of us in the family sleep. We have no electricity. This makes it hard for me to do my homework at night. I am so happy that I get to go to school. I am 12 years old and in Grade 6. My older brothers had to drop out of school and help our dad. They work as farmers. They have a long walk (5 km) in the mornings to get to the fields. I also have a long walk (4 km) to school, but I don’t mind. I love going to school.
One day, mom and dad heard some bad news. People from a church were visiting and talking about a mysterious bug that bites people at night when they are sleeping. We call it the kissing bug. It carries Chagas, a disease that can kill you. Most people in my village didn’t know about this disease. The church encouraged mom and dad to have everyone in the family tested. It was scary to find out that mom and dad and my oldest brother have the disease, but the church will help them to get medicine.
The church also gave dad some materials to fix our house to keep the kissing bug away. People even came from Canada to help us. We couldn’t believe it. It was amazing to meet someone from a country so far away. Together we poured concrete over the dirt floor and then covered the mud walls with plaster. Dad also replaced our thatched roof with tin. I am so happy with all these changes to our home. I will have a very good, peaceful sleep knowing that the kissing bug is gone.