Saturday, July 23, 2011

More on Benigno

We were all sitting around the breakfast table this morning.  Most of us tired – not of us not sleeping well because we are worried about Benigno’s family (see previous blog).
 We were talking about this this morning – and how could it be that he could have been so sick and no one knew.  Because I did find out that no one knew!

 Apparently he felt a great pain in his abdomen (solar plexus area) early evening on Wednesday the 20th.  His house is way down the road from the ‘center’ of town.  (We’re talking 20 families in this community).  He made his way up to his sister’s house and couldn’t go any further.  They called a friend and waited for transportation to get him to the hospital in Santiago de Maria and that come quite late.  He was given something for the pain, but they only did simple exams. 

 The sad reality here is if you have no financial resource, that’s all you get: a basic exam. For example: an older woman came out of her exam with one of the doctors of the Newton Medical Delegation last March and was quite emotional.  She said that this was the first time she was ever actually touched by a doctor.  In all her years – her exams have been words only:  “How are you?  You have a pain where?  Ah … take this prescription to the pharmacy and buy …” 

Ok.  That is over-simplifying the exam I’m sure.  I hope.  And I have hopes that not all public servant doctors are like this, but I have heard it over and over from several people: that without financial resources, that is pretty much all you get.  Period.

So there are many people who don’t bother to go to the doctor for every little ache or pain.  They ride it out.  They ignore it.  They live with it.  Because in reality, what could you do about it?  If you have cancer, or lung disease, or kidney disease or whatever – you can’t afford the medicines.  You can’t afford the operation.  So why bother to know. 

After the internment yesterday we were talking to some of the family and we were told that they were told that ex-rays showed his lungs were basically ‘dead’ and non-functioning.  He ended up in a larger hospital in San Miguel and died there.  The family might never know what was wrong with him.  But it is possible he was riddled with cancer and never knew it. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

A funeral

We went out to La Llanes again yesterday.   We were just there for their Patron Saint celebration last Saturday.  And we had visited there with the Central Presbyterian Church delegation a couple of weeks ago – delivering large water tanks and getting to know them a little and visiting a few homes.

One of the homes we visited was a couple with 14 children.  They are poor … poor.  They live in a smallish house with minimal ‘furniture’ (‘furniture being  a relative term here).  Their little home is on a level-ish part of land with several hills surrounding it and a beautiful view of a valley below and a volcano in the distance.   They live smack in the middle of the land they farm for the owner who lives in San Salvador.  They ‘rent’ the land they farm – but he didn’t know how much he would have to pay that year.  The owner hadn’t said yet – but last year it was $24.  A fair price for all the land he was working! And it is a beautiful location.  When we were there, the corn was all planted and growing nicely – about 3 feet high.  The father of the family was answering our questions very graciously.  He seemed pleased by our interest in his work and our interest in his community. 

So yesterday we went out to La Llanes again.  But this time for something very sad.  The same man who was explaining about his crops and sharing his life with us – died.  He was 51.  He left behind a wife, 14 children and one grandchild.  Apparently he woke up one night with deep pain in his lower gut.  He didn’t go to the clinic right away – but eventually someone took him.  I’m not sure what the prognosis was – the family wasn’t sure.  They might never know. 

But we drove out to be with them for the first day of prayers.

The Pastoral Team helped out with all the pan dulce (sweet bread) they would need, a couple pounds of Don Justo Coffee, 12# of sugar, 100 cups and plates, misc food stuffs for the family themselves.  We gave them money to buy the funeral candles. And we paid for the transportation for the people to get home after the burial.   And we’re thinking of buying a couple hundred pounds of corn for the family.

We’re worried about the family.  How can we not worry?  How is she going to take care of all those children?  Their crops?

8 of Benigno's children, a grandson and his widow Maria
We found out about a beautiful thing – tomorrow (Saturday) – about 20 people from the community are going to go out to their fields and ‘clean’ it for them – to clear the weeds from the corn stalks.   This is a job that would normally take almost a week for one or two people to do.  And the widow would not be able to do it – her youngest is 3 years old!!  So the community is banding together to help her out.

And I bet they will help her through every step of the process all the way to harvest.

Community is something people do well here.  It is uplifting and inspiring in the midst of the great sadness.

Please pray for this family.  And all the families who struggle with life’s great challenges.

Looking back at their home from the edge of the slope at the end of Benigno's rented farmland

One of Benigno's sons perched on a stump in the field.  What a view!