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Partnering to bring medical support to thousands in need

How CCFC’s Paraguay team worked with U.S.-based IMAHelps and government to assist children, youth and adults

By Rosanna E. Menchaca, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, Paraguay

When Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) works in a country, support is not limited to communities where sponsorship, Community Rise or donor projects are administered. We work closely with government, non-governmental agencies and others to impact as many children and families as possible.

That was the case in Paraguay for eight days this past summer when 5,600 patients were attended by 77 doctors and specialists from IMAHelps, an American health mission, which completed 167 surgeries, 650 dental consultations and 15 cardiology procedures during that time. CCFC was a strategic partner for the Minister of Health and the Paraguay government to manage and co-coordinate this mission.

“We are honoured by this call to help. As an organization we are known for our transparency, so the Center of Government [group] and Minister of Health selected us for this important mission for Paraguayans who need it most,” shared Rosarina Maciel, CCFC’s finance manager who coordinated the initiative with the local government, which entrusted funds to CCFC to coordinate logistics, further strengthening their relationship.

The stories from patients were heartwarming. “I am very happy, very excited,” enthused Rodolfo Pino, patient number 1. He sold some of his possessions to travel 300 km for medical advice. Three years ago a traffic accident left him on crutches, which meant he couldn’t do his job as a gomero, repairing tires. Instead, he sold coffee and chipas (a Paraguayan cheese bread) to support his wife and three children. Now, he can walk again and soon return to his job as a gomero.

Stories like Rodolfo’s filled us with emotion. Children, adults and seniors travelled to the National Hospital of Itaugua, just outside of the capital city of Asunción, to consult with doctors volunteering with passion and love for people in need.

“It makes me happy to give what I can for a better world,” said Gloria Soto, a physiotherapist, noting a phrase that became a motto between volunteers: “never say never,” in the face of adversity, there is always hope.

Founded in 2000 by Ecuadorian Ines Allen and her husband, Tracey, IMAHelps organizes medical humanitarian missions providing medical, health and hygiene services.

During their mission to Paraguay, expertise was provided in urology, pediatrics, gastroenterology, obstetrics, gynecology, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, maxillofacial and plastic surgery, dentistry, endodontics and physiotherapy. IMAHelps also donated medicine, crutches, wheelchairs, stretchers and other medical supplies. In addition, they shared knowledge between colleagues, students and volunteers across countries.

“I am the product of poverty,” said Ines, explaining her mission. “I lost [my] 16-year-old brother because of a heart problem. I imagine that if we had financial resources, he would be alive today.” And, now many others in Paraguay won’t have to suffer, thanks to this partnership between IMAHelps, the Paraguayan government and CCFC. 

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About Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-centred international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For nearly 60 years, CCFC has worked with children, communities, supporters and other partners — changing lives through improved health, education and clean water. CCFC works in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, to support more than 700,000 children, youth and community members.