Community Health Workers

Giving Thanks: From a Mother in Burundi

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Earlier this month, we shared the story of Capitoline, a hero who’s saving the lives of many children in her community in Burundi.  Now, we get to share the story of a grateful mother who knows firsthand just how important Capitoline’s skills and care are. “Nobody can love and take care of our children the way Capitoline does,” Emmanuella said, as she thought of the time her 17-month-old came down with a high fever and had convulsions in the middle of the night.  She and her husband were afraid - these were signs of malaria, a disease that is preventable and treatable, yet often deadly in Burundi.

But Emmanuella knew her neighbor, Capitoline, was a community health worker trained by World Relief. So in the early morning hours, the family ran to Capitoline’s house nearby for help.  She was able to immediately give Emmanuella’s child the proper medications, which led to recovery just three days later.

In the past, Emmanuella had taken her children to the hospital when they were sick. But a trip to the local hospital was a significant journey on foot, and they would often have to wait to even be admitted once they arrived. Capitoline’s medical training meant that Emmanuella and her family didn’t have to wait a long time to receive treatment – time that can mean the difference between life and death.

World Relief has trained hundreds of other community health workers like Capitoline, who are always ready and willing to help their neighbors.  In addition to diagnosing and treating different diseases, they also educate their neighbors about simple hygiene practices that promote good health for every-day living.

Emmanuella knows that health workers like Capitoline are invaluable: “We thank God that we now have a community health worker in our neighborhood.”

To give thanks and empower more heroes like Capitoline, visit empowerahero.org.

A friendship that brought life

Proverbs 17:17 says,"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity." World Relief empowers the local Church in Mozambique to serve the most vulnerable by training community health workers to provide in-home care for the marginalized. Often, these volunteers provide lasting friendship to the people they serve, meeting not only their health needs but their spiritual and relational needs as well.

Esmeralda Fernandowas in a very vulnerable state before a trained community health worker reached out to her and helped her achieve a better quality of life. She has HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. At only 22 years old, she is a widow and a single parent to her seven year-old child. Her husband passed away in 2013.

When she was first visited by the volunteer, Esmerelda and her husband both knew they had HIV/AIDS but had not been adhering to treatment. After her husband passed away, Esmerelda began heeding the words of the volunteer.

“When she first came to talk about our health and our possibility to re-start our normal life if we do regular treatment, we didn’t believe her because, for us, our life was close to the end," said Esmerelda. "When my husband passed away, [she] visited me more times and one day asked me who is going to take care of my child if I die.”

The community health worker helped Esmerelda realize that her health was fragile, precious and vital for the well-being of her daughter. Esmerelda began treatment and today, her health has improved.

Esmerelda Mozambique

When we spoke to her, Esmeralda Fernando had a lot to say about the volunteer who showed her the love of Christ in word and deed. “I feel relief because of the work [she] did in my life,” she said. “She is like a sister to me. I decided to restart the treatment again and with the support of the [health worker] and my relatives even, [though we were not] sure of the results.”

The volunteer also helped Esmerelda enroll her daughter in school and obtain necessary school supplies. “Today, I am feeling good,” said Esmerelda. “I farm and produce my own food. I and my child are very happy and I am thankful too because it was able to help enroll my child in the school I also was able to learn a lot about community health. I am willing to pass the message to other people in the community."