Hope for Paula

2Paula is a 40 year old mother of 5 with limited resources and few options for health care in the small community of Sarawaska  about 25 kilometers away from the city of Jinotega, Nicaragua where Esperanҫa operates. Paula has had to deal with two major medical conditions over the years. Her first condition is epilepsy, a condition that causes uncontrollable seizures and is managed by medication. She currently takes medication 3 times a day to control her seizures but this poses a challenge. She also developed gallstones, and with her epileptic condition no local doctors would operate on her. This means for the past four years she has lived with the pain that is associated with gallstones with no chance of relief. The gallstones had reached a point where she could no longer function with the pain they caused.

Then she heard about the surgical mission that Esperanҫa was sending to Jinotega with Dr. Inglis and his general surgical team, and there was hope for Paula. She leapt at even the chance of being considered for the surgical mission and the first day of the mission she was there and ready to be evaluated for surgery. She came prepared and was cleared for surgery and was placed on the schedule for the week. When her surgery time came, it went off without a hitch. She was so grateful for the amazing team and supporters like you that made it possible for her to function again.



Dixon’s Wishes are Answered

Meet one of the children that has been saved, 10-year-old Dixon who lives in El Pavón, Rio Blanco, Nicaragua. He hated going to school, where the other children made fun of his severe cleft lip.

Knowing that education was Dixon’s best hope for a better future, and wanting the best of everything for her son, his mother had sought help to repair his cleft when he was younger. The local doctors told her that she would need to travel a great distance from home to reach the doctors that had the skill to provide the surgery and that it would be very costly for the surgery itself. She knew that she could not afford even the trip, let alone the expensive surgery.

Out of options, Dixon and his family resigned themselves to a lifetime of teasing and prejudice. This was when hope arrived over the radio in the form of Esperanҫa. His mother heard an announcement that Esperança was sending a plastic surgeon from the United States to Jinotega to operate for free on children with problems like Dixon’s.

Although Dixon and his mother live only 65 miles from Jinotega in the Department of Matagalpa, it was still a long and costly journey for them. They had to travel on foot much of the way, and they had to spend precious money to buy food as well. However, Dixon’s mother knew it was a good investment of time and money since she so wanted to transform her son’s life. At the completion of Dixon’s surgery, the entire family was very happy with the outcome. This will allow him to live a life free from the prejudice a cleft lip brings.







A Mission of Hope, A Mission of Success

During the week of February 22nd through March 1st, Esperança was able to embark on one of the largest supporter mission trips completed to date. The total number of people that traveled with Esperança was 26! This included long-time surgical volunteer Dr. Retson and his team who have succesfully completed 40 surgical missions since 1990. Travelers didn’t know what to expect, but anticipation was high and was increased with the ability to meet and transform the lives of families in Nicaragua.

Many lives were touched that fateful week, and one of those lives was Hervin, age 3. He first met Dr. Retson in 2013, traveling with his grandmother from a great distance that brought them from the Honduran border. This was not the first attempt from Hervin’s loving family to try to find a solution to his medical complications. His mother had attempted reaching out to local surgeons but was continually turned away because of the severity of his condition. But when Hervin and his family first came through the doors of our clinic they knew that hope was there. With such a severe cleft there was the need for more practiced hands and Dr. Retson was there for Hervin and his family because of your support. After three procedures, Hervin’s cleft was corrected. The photos of Hervin truly show the transformation that took place, and the travelers on the Mission of Hope were able to see this miracle first hand.

The Mission of Hope was one of the first trips with Esperança for many of the supporters, and it was also the first opportunity for our new Program Director, Karen Resseguie, to see our work in Nicaragua. With Esperança’s close relationship with the volunteers of the community she learned plenty about our projects; but when it comes to transforming lives, nothing is like being able to speak directly with a family that has walked for days to have a glimpse of hope to see a doctor, or turn on a functioning water system that brings clean water to thousands.

Karen finished the trip with the following comments: “It was such a pleasure to see a surgical mission in progress as well as being able to sort and organize medical supplies. We also got to see Esperança projects such as the gravity-based aqueduct system, life-changing latrines, cooperatives supporting cacao producers and egg-laying farms.Everywhere we went, we were greeted by enthusiasm, appreciation and hand-cooked meals by project beneficiaries. I can say with great confidence that the people of Nicaragua have been touched by people like you who care enough to help improve lives of those who need it.”

With the Mission of Hope complete, those on the mission are left with stories of hope and transformation. As an organization we are touched everyday with these stories, and we are excited to share them with you.

If you are interested in joining us on the next Mission of Hope please contact Jared Leslie, Development Director at (602)252-7772 ext 101 or by email

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Jamie’s Transformation















For Jaime Gutierrez, it’s quitting time. He says goodnight to his co-workers and heads home just like he’s done a thousand times before. But unlike all those past trips down familiar roads; this night will be different.

This night Jaime won’t make it home.

A truck smashes into Jaime just a quarter mile from his house. The next thing he knows he’s at the hospital, alive, but with legs that are completely shattered. The doctor informs him that although they were able to insert pins to hold everything together, they don’t have the surgical plates needed to give him the ability to walk.

In one night, Jaime’s lost not only his mobility, but his capacity to work and take care of himself. Without a miracle, he’ll become a burden to his family for the rest of his life, helpless to change his fate.

Jaime’s story could have easily ended there. There was no reason to believe that he would ever walk again. But fortunately, one year later, Jaime was given new hope – through the partnership of Esperança and friends like you.

He heard on the radio about a surgery mission organized by Esperança that would be making a visit to his local hospital. Jaime was so excited; he wasted no time in calling on his friends and family to help arrange a trip. The next day he was seen by one of our volunteer orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Sachs for an evaluation. The doctor explained that because so much time had passed, Jaime’s legs would need to be reset. He would have to undergo three different types of surgeries in order to regain his ability to walk.

I’m happy to report that Jaime’s surgeries were completely successful! Thanks to our partnership, Jaime is mobile again and looking forward to a bright new future!

The sad thing is, if Jaime had been born in the United States, there would have been no issue. He would have received the plates he needed at the time of the crash and would have been able to been able to walk again shortly after. But in places like Nicaragua, where medical supplies and expertise regularly fall short of demand, small problems like these often lead to needlessly bleak futures.

That’s why over the next three months, we are planning on sending out six surgery missions, three to Nicaragua and three to Bolivia. At 40-50 surgeries performed per visit, that’s 270 lives set free from unnecessary suffering in just the first quarter of the year!

Without your support, surgery missions like these wouldn’t exist. Hundreds of people like Jaime would be trapped – forced to live out bleak, painful futures without hope. We are incredibly blessed by the quality of healthcare that is available here in the United States. With your help, we can share that blessing with hundreds of men, women and children across

Nicaragua and Bolivia and change their lives forever. Thank you for the continued partnership that makes missions like these possible. Together we are bringing hope to the hopeless, one life at a time.

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Hope has Been Matched!



























We quizzed Esperanҫa supporters on what the most important life-saving    device was in your home this past October, and we shared that it was your toilet. That’s because something as simple as a toilet fights deadly diseases like Cholera and Typhoid. We also shared with you the story of the small village of Santa Amalia with 280 hardworking families located 60 miles north of the town of Jinotega. Uncontained waste is a huge issue in the village of Santa Amalia, and you rose to the challenge to transform their lives.


Generous Esperança donors raised $25,000 for latrines before we shared the story with you in October. Thanks to your support you completed the match and now Santa Amalia will be transformed! We would like to introduce you to Esther Amparo Blandon a young mother of two daughters, Seidelin Alexandra and Helen Juniet. She lives with her husband, Alejandro Jose Ramos Garmendia, and her father-in-law. With your help in the past, we brought drinking water and electricity to their home. However, they didn’t have latrines until a few weeks ago, and had to go outdoors when nature called. Neighbors were plagued by disease with no hope of containing the waste that was the catalyst to their suffering until you changed this.

Esther spoke of how in the past, in order to use the restroom, she would have to hike to the nearby mountains and get undressed, at times in the evening rain exposing herself to potential snake bites. This young family now has an outdoor ecological toilet, built by Esperança with your support, which allows a safe sanitary way to dispose of waste while at the same time being environmentally friendly.

Esther and her husband Alejandro are thrilled with their ecological toilet. They no longer have to worry about the risk of disease their young family faces that accompanies uncontained waste. Esther mentioned that the children like it too because it is close to their home and now eliminates their long walks. It is a point of family pride.

The ecological toilets Esperança is constructing consist of four parts: 1) a sanitary porcelain toilet bowl (without a tank) that is installed upon a pedestal, 2) a decomposing tank (a plastic drum with a top and a vent) 3) a trench for filtration/evaporation filled with gravel and rocks where a perforated PVC pipe is attached and 4) a tank constructed out of zinc laminate and squared tubing. The trench is covered with dirt, and in the surrounding area plants are grown as the roots help with the decomposing process.

Esperança plans to build 280 latrines. Because of the size of the project, we plan to complete this in two phases. Phase One will build half of the needed latrines starting on January 1st. Phase Two completes the project in 2015. Phase One represents 140 families at $380 each. When you add it all up, you will improve the lives of approximately 700 people for as little as $53,200.

It’s amazing that something as simple as a latrine could have the power to save lives. Your partnership with Esperança will continue to give this sort of hope and security to people and villages around the world.



Clarita, now a happy baby girl



Clarita is the youngest of six children. Her mother and father cut down trees and prep the land for a local landowner near their Bolivian home. They are away from home for many hours every day to provide enough money to not only feed and house their children but to provide an education. Clarita’s mother has a hearing disability and has difficulty pronouncing words. When their parents are away, the children are left in the care of the eldest daughter who is 12 years old.

Clarita had just turned one. She was learning to walk and was tumbling from one place to another inside their humble home. Her older sister was distracted for just a moment, and Clarita fell onto the open fire grill where the family meals are cooked. She suffered major burns on most of her face and both arms.

Clarita was taken to the local hospital in Tarija and admitted to the burn unit. Local doctors selected her to be operated on by Esperança’s medical mission team that would be arriving in several weeks. It was a plastic surgery team skilled in burn repair. She was kept under close observation, awaiting the surgeon’s arrival.

Upon the arrival Dr. Retson and his team performed a successful surgery, and Clarita was kept under observation for three additional weeks to ensure her skin grafts developed adequately. Now Clarita is happy. She received great care and the priceless gift of a pain-free future. She was discharged and returned home on September 4th.




“Thank you for helping me see”


Adolfo Mamani is an 85-year-old father of two who has worked as a farmer for decades. It is work he is proud of and can perform well. However, about two years ago he completely lost sight in one eye and was losing sight in the other. Adolfo was not only in great pain, but he had trouble completing work tasks which provided for his family’s livelihood.

He was evaluated a year ago and told that surgery would cost $3,000, an amount that neither he nor his family could ever afford to pay. Adolfo had shown up at the hospital in Tarija and stood in line to be treated by the doctors on one of Esperança’s previous surgical missions, but he was not able to be seen due to the huge numbers of people also awaiting evaluation.

Since then, he has asked about and waited for the ophthalmologists to return. Adolfo recalls, “When they gave me the date I said, ‘FINALLY! Finally I will be one of the first on the list! I arrived very early on the day of the appointment, and I was lucky. I thank God for being cared for, and I am very grateful to the doctors who make it possible for American surgeons to come and help us, the poor, who so anxiously anticipate their arrival.




“Ray of hope lighting my way”

blog postYolanda Patiño, a 65-year-old mother of eleven, lives in a rural village two hours outside of Tarija, Bolivia. She, her husband and their children are farmers who also tend to the land of others in the community in exchange for meals. She suffered an unfortunate traumatic accident a year ago that would transform her life. Since the accident she has dealt with chronic watering in both eyes, swollen eyelids and daily pain. The pain was especially excruciating when she was at work in the fields.

She visited the local ophthalmologist who told her she needed a $2,000 surgery. Since that was more than their yearly family income, she turned to natural medicine and other rustic palliative practices which her neighbors recommended. These methods were not very effective. She dealt with the pain and swelling for a year, until the day she heard the hopeful news on the radio that Dr. Birenbaum would be arriving in Tarija to provide free surgeries. She was completely overjoyed and made arrangements to travel to Tarija.

June 21st is a national holiday in Bolivia, so Yolanda did not attend her scheduled appointment as she thought the hospital would be closed on that day. The list of patients and the schedule of surgeries was finalized without Yolanda’s name. Distraught and nervous she showed up early one morning during the mission, hoping to ask            Dr. Birenbaum to please examine her. She explained that she was in a lot of pain and apologized for having missed her appointment. Dr. Birenbaum examined her and said, “These are the people I am here to help, and she needs my help.” Yolanda’s name was added to the surgery schedule.

The diagnosis was bilateral palpebral trauma and inflammation of the conjunctiva gland. The joy radiated from Yolanda’s face when she found out she would receive surgery that would cure her problems permanently.  Yolanda spoke before and after surgery and was sharing exciting and thankful comments with the doctor and his team and to all who made this day possible.


Hamilton’s Help

8-year-old Hamilton Ariel, the twelfth of fifteen children. He lives with his family in the rural community of San Miguel de Atapal, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Jinotega in Nicaragua. About a year ago his mother, Doña Sonia Salguera, found several small cyst-like balls growing underneath his jaw. Greatly concerned, she took him to the nearest health center, which is a 40 minute walk from their home. Clinic personnel prescribed antibiotics and set up an appointment for the following month.

However, Hamilton and his mother were unable to return for the appointment. Two months later they made the trip again, and Hamilton’s growths were markedly worse. One cyst had grown to the size of a golf ball. Clinic personnel transferred Hamilton to the larger health clinic in Ayapal where doctors diagnosed the growth as a tumor. They informed Hamilton’s worried parents that they could remove the tumor for 3000 pesos (approximately $120 US) but that if he still wasn’t cured they would need 10,000 pesos ($400) to complete the treatment. The amount seems modest to us, but, like most others in the region, Hamilton’s family lives on less than $2 per day. Since the family was unable to afford the surgery, he was released without it. His father decided to resort to natural medicine, which did not help.

In March 2013 Doña Sonia noticed Hamilton had 4 or 5 new cysts in the same area. She was greatly alarmed by their rapid growth and decided to take Hamilton to the health center. Once again, the staff recommended that Hamilton be transferred to a hospital because he required surgery they were not equipped to provide. She explained to the doctor that she didn’t have the necessary money, so he told her to go home, somehow scrape together the money and return in two weeks.  Hamilton was hospitalized on April 22nd. His tests provided no definite diagnosis, and, unable to afford the surgery for the necessary biopsy, the staff decided to treat him for lymph node TB.

Two months later, Dr. Custer and his team arrived at the hospital. They performed the biopsy which Hamilton had needed for more than a year and sent it to pathology for further study. He was subsequently transferred to the hemato-oncology wing of the children’s hospital in Jinotega. Esperança made Hamilton’s treatment possible by covering the costs of his transfer as well as lab tests.

Esperanca helped the family with follow-up lab exams and a consultation with a specialist. He was evaluated by an oncologist in the country’s capital, Managua, Nicaragua. For more than 30 days, Hamilton was in the Managua hospital for testing. They diagnosed him with stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and recommended chemotherapy as once. He has been through one chemo treatment and is headed to Managua today, August 12th, for his second chemo treatment. Obviously the parents are very distraught with this diagnosis but the doctor said that he is progressing well and they are all having faith in God.


Hope is never too late….

Meet Mrs. Enriqueta Ruiz del Rosario Valdes, a 36-year-old woman from San Pedro, located in the town of Bocay. Enriqueta a married housewife that has given birth to seven children. Like most births in the area they were all completed at home. She currently lives with 3 grand children, 4 daughters and her husband which form a total of 9 people. Her husband is the only one able to work in order to sustain the family!

Enriqueta has always had difficulty receiving any type of medical care or treatment throughout her entire life. She has been in dire need of assistance because of the severe cleft lip that she had since she was born. Since childhood Enriqueta has had interpersonal relations problem because he was embarrassed to be seen and she has always isolated in herself in her home.

She never sought help because her and her family knew this problem would require surgery. With little to no access to healthcare, the dream of fixing this ailment was outside the realm of possibilities. But, with a ray of hope, she heard an ad on a local radio station that Esperança would be in her country and she knew this was her chance. So on February 23, she entered the emergency room at 1 am and waited nine hours for entry in the medical brigade. She was received by the coordinators of the brigade and explained that the consultation and surgery had no cost and it was funded by Esperança, in coordination with AVODEC and the Ministry of Health. She was evaluated by Dr. Retson and staff, diagnosed with a complete left unilateral cleft lip, and scheduled for surgery on February 25th!

When the procedure was complete and Enriqueta was in recovery she wanted to say a few words to Dr. Retson, “I am very grateful that I will no longer fear going out into the community and watch as people laugh at me; thank you for your work!”Enriqueta is enjoying stable health and constantly sharing her story and thanking people who make it possible for Esperança to exist in Nicaragua.

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