Mission El Salvador Day 4
For my fourth day in El Salvador, I changed things up yet again and spent most of the day following the project FIAT (Faith In Action Together) nurse as she made her daily rounds. Nurses in El Salvador give a new meaning to the phrase “general specialist.” The Nurse spent her day going door to door meeting with patients spread widely in the rural village. Her first couple visits seemed to be targeted toward new mothers. She delivered baby clothes, including baptismal robes, and she walked the mothers through a long questionnaire of potential problems they or their new babies could be having. Then she visited with a diabetic patient who had one of his feet amputated. She measured his one remaining foot and petitioned to get a shoe with the right fit to help his remaining foot.
But then the Nurse did a sudden switch and she finished the rest of the day giving dogs vaccinations. If you’re a dog lover El Salvador has some awful sites. The dogs in central America aren’t fed by their owners; food is too precious. The dogs refrain from starving by scavenging for food. Clearly, the vaccinations were not really for the dog’s benefit- the nurse was trying to reduce the spread of rabies at its source.
Sometimes when I think of the way average people approach social justice it reminds me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Maslow divides what everyone seeks for their own survival into five stages, Physiological, Safety, Love/Belonging, Esteem, and Self Actualization. Most people understand the importance of providing for basic needs. We generally agree if someone lacks food, water or clothing, that the situation should be corrected. There is usually a lot of people who will also volunteer to help at the other end. If someone has pulled themselves out of poverty and is ready to go to college or start a business, a lot of people would like to help. Everyone loves a success story. It is the stages in the middle that become controversial or forgotten. For a healthy person, having access to health care isn’t a basic need, but it is a safety need. Parents who can afford it don’t send their daughters to college without health care- that would be unsafe. As Catholics, we believe we are all one family. So why shouldn’t we want all of Gods daughters protected, before they become sick? In much of the world we have a long way to go.
While working with the nurse was eye opening, I learned that there was little I could personally do to help. I have no background in medicine. I have the greatest respect for people who do. It is clear that God needs more healers in this world. And I have met many members of the body of Christ who have this gift and are using it in awe inspiring ways. The rest of us must find and use our own gifts to support this body we share. So my challenge to you for the forth day is to spend some time discerning what your gifts are and how you are called to use them to serve our human family. And as always, keep praying for the people of El Salvador.