Sunday, August 24, 2014

No Parents Left Behind: #Blogust: A Marathon to Save Children’s Lives Near...

No Parents Left Behind: #Blogust: A Marathon to Save Children’s Lives Near...: I am a passionate advocate and Champion for Shot@life, a campaign to protect children worldwide by providing live-saving vaccines to childr...

#Blogust: A Marathon to Save Children’s Lives Near and Far!

I am a passionate advocate and Champion for Shot@life, a campaign to protect children worldwide by providing live-saving vaccines to children in developing countries. Also I am a mother, an educator and a former nurse who worked in a developing country (Mexico).  There I saw many illnesses, pain and sadness in the eyes of many mothers.  At times there was nothing the doctors could do to save their children from diseases that could have been easily prevented. 

Every summer I volunteer wherever I can to serve communities in need.  This year I visited and taught in some rural-remote communities in the heart of the Sierra Madre of Mexico.  Here I had the opportunity of working in the states of Veracruz, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo and others for almost 4 weeks with underserved children and families in Mexico. 
 Osvaldo &Cristina our interpreters from Spanish-to-Nahuatl 
My first climb, after an initial briefing with leaders from World Vision Mexico, was to the community of Mixtla in the state of Veracruz, Mexico.
After a long walk we arrived at the top of Zongolica Mountain!  Our guide said that we were 5600 meters (18,2000 feet) above sea level.  I realized that after driving from Orizaba (big city) to Zongolica (40 kilometers), and from Zongolica to the center of the community of Mixtla  (14.7 kilometers), and from there to Mixtla to Altamirano we walked another 5.3 kilometers -  total of 60 kilometers… 96.6 miles just to get there!  But what an amazing view!!  Although my heart was racing and my ears were popping, my excitement was compensating my difficulties in breathing.
Talking to mothers of Mixtla de Altamirano

From the top of the mountains we descended 1600 meters to reach the community of Mixtla de Altamirano.  There we found 40 families living in poverty and lacking the basic human services and supplies needed to survive.  Here they spoke mostly Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.  
The one school room  that serves 7 communities
Parents were proud to show us their one room school.  This is the only school around these mountains where children from 7 other communities attend classes.  Some of these students have to wake up before daylight without eating breakfast and walk 2-3 hours every day to learn.  The classroom was almost empty with few chairs and not funishings!  One teacher comes and teaches 1st through 6th grades in the same room with no comfortable place to sleep, eat or a toilet to use.  The teacher also has to be bilingual because the students speak Nahuatl.
The little  clinic in Cruztitla, mpio. of Zongolica
The closest health center to serve the community is in Cruztitla, less than 2 miles away – after descending about 1600 feet down the mountain on foot, without a road to follow.  This little one-room clinic measures only about 30 by 20 feet and also serves the other communities of Capultitla, Cruztitla, Tlachicuapa and Tetziquila.  Doctors can only come to serve once or twice at week, but they don’t have a place to stay overnight.
  With mothers in Tehuipango, Veracruz
  Once again you could see that Motherhood is Universal!  No interpreter was needed in our communications!  I understood the mothers when they said that diarrhea, fever, measles, prenatal care, anemia and headaches were some of their worries for their children’s health.  We delivered 200 tylenol bottles and some school supplies to these families.

The first day of school in La Paloma, Hidalgo
Later in the state of Hidalgo, I enjoyed the day working with the amazing team of Brigade 10  and visiting with children and parents of the community ”La Paloma”.  It was a profound delight to be able to share with them the importance of basic Health, vaccinations and education as a means to eradicate poverty in order to give their children opportunities to develop, create and grow.  Above is a ‘shot’ of the first day of School with all these children.   I was able to donate some school supplies to over 100 moms and their children in the community of the la Paloma, Hidalgo.
Here is to a Shot to the          first day of school !     At times like these, I can’t help but look back with such feelings of warmth on the days I spent in Uganda.  ­­­The Mexican Parents and children are very similar to the Ugandan parents and their children.  Their courage and resilience and the children’s smiles and gratitude taught me greatly of the human will to triumph - and the power of kindness. 

 Jen Burden and I during a UNICEF Health Day in Uganda

During Shot@Life Blogust 2014 - a month-long blog relay - some online writers, bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about happy and healthy firsts. Every time you comment on this post or share it via social media, Walgreens will donate one vaccination (up to 60,000) for the campaign.  Blogust is part of an overall commitment by Walgreens to donate up to I million vaccinations through its “Get a Shot.  Give a Shot” project.  I have been supporting, advocating and championing the United Nations Foundation Shot@life vaccination campaign because I believe in their mission and goals and have firsthand experience that vaccines save lives.  So please join me and help protect, save, and give children around the globe a shot at life by providing the needed vaccines for them.