Esperança

Preventing Disease as a Family

Mery Rodríguez is a 60 year-old participant in the workshops.  She lives with her oldest daughter who has two children of her own.

Mery worked all her life selling food and soft drinks at a street stand.  Her diet consisted of noodles, rice, meat, and potatoes, all with a lot of added salt. She admits that vegetables were scarce in her dishes.

“I had always been overweight, even when I was young. But the problem came later, when my blood pressure began to rise.  I began to feel like I couldn’t breathe… I was treated for four years. This year my condition got worse, so I was prescribed blood pressure medication again.”

But on the most recent visit to her doctor, Mery found a hope that she didn’t expect. Her doctor invited her to attend Esperança’s support group.  Even better, she didn’t have to go far at all – her doctor worked out of the health center where the group sessions are held!

As one part of Esperança’s programming in Bolivia, our local partner NGO, Esperanza Bolivia, hosts a monthly support group for people taking charge of their health.

The objective of this group is to spark a sense of responsibility and self-care for participants thinking about their health. The therapeutic group is a space where people share their feelings and experiences, helping motivate them to accept their illness and take ownership of their care. Participants share correct and clear information about their diseases, corresponding diets, and how to cook easy, cheap and healthy foods.

“Being part of these groups encourages me to take care of my health we go home together and prepare the recipes we have learned. Somehow, the group helps me take care of my health and help my daughter to prevent diseases ... and not feel alone.”

But the unforeseen impact of these groups was even greater. Mery learned that she had the power to positively affect someone else’s life in return.

“This group is like my family. In difficult moments of loneliness and sadness, this group was my refuge. Before when I got sick, I would cry and be in denial, but now that I attend the group and I feel loved and supported.”

Elena Burr