March 2007 - Vol. 6
“reaching out to the needy with skilled hands and hearts full of love”
by Sherry Snyder
So many children – impoverished, malnourished, diseased, and deformed. Their mothers – without hope, or medication, or financial means to get medical attention and help for their children. How can one person, or even one organization, really make a difference – make a change, bring a cure, reverse the curse of poverty and disease among thousands of the most neglected and poorest in such a place as Nicaragua? Sherry Snyder, a professional nurse who has dedicated her life to consecrated celibacy and mission in the service of God’s people, tells the remarkable story of how one person ignited hope and inspired many others to join with him in bringing the healing love and care of Christ to some of the neediest people of the world. Sherry Snyder is the Director of Hope Clinic International (HCI), a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to increasing access to medical care for poor women and children in developing countries.
One person, one heart, one vision
All it took was one person, with a heart and a vision, to step out in a venture of faith and hope to bring medical care and help. Hope Clinic International (HCI) began because one man saw a need and decided he had to do something to help.
Dr. Dan Heffernan, a family physician in Ann Arbor, Michigan, founded HCI in 1997 after a family visit to Nicaragua. He was introduced to a local pediatrician who described to him the large number of children with acquired or congenital defects that had no way of receiving life-saving surgeries due to the scarcity of trained surgeons and medical supplies and equipment. Additionally, the poor were forced to spend their limited resources if they wished to obtain necessary medicines or surgery for their ill children.
What started as one man’s decision to do something has turned into an organization that has brought hope and health care to thousands of children in Central America over the past ten years.
Sherry Snyder (far right) with volunteer staff of Hope Clinic International in Nicaragua
dignity, hope, and health care
The purpose of Hope Clinic International’s mission program is to provide donated medical and surgical help to women and children where medical and/or financial resources and skills are not available. Our mission is built on Judeo-Christian principles that value the dignity of the human person and gives preference to the poor and those without hope.
Since it was established in 1997, HCI has sent volunteer medical and surgical teams to the several towns in Nicaragua, among them, Estelí, Jinotega, Matagalpa, Leon, Masaya and Chinandega. Currently, we send teams three times a year to Nicaragua and have also recently established a permanent free clinic to serve the needs of impoverished women and children in a rural community in the Nicaraguan mountains.
Each year our volunteer surgeons perform over forty surgical procedures, mainly to correct congenital defects such as imperforate anus, and our pediatricians and nurses care for hundreds of children with illnesses ranging from minor infections to acute asthma. But more important than any number is the fact that many of these children would not have survived without the help provided by HCI. Take Gisselle, for instance.
Doctor Roger Anderberg at the Nicaraguan medical clinic
A shining example of hope
Gisselle was born with a serious congenital defect requiring a colostomy at birth and later developed complications from a surgery she’d had to repair the defect. Over the years Gisselle’s condition gradually worsened until she was unable to eat more than small amounts of pureed food. When the HCI team saw her, she was an emaciated young girl; the only children’s hospital in the country had been unable to help her. The team realized that she would need three to four corrective procedures in order to regain normal health. Over the period of three years, surgeons from HCI performed the additional surgeries needed to wholly repair Gisselle’s defects and, ultimately, were able to remove her colostomy. Now sixteen years old, Gisselle enjoys a normal, healthy life.
Gisselle with her mother and Doctor David Lanning
Gisselle once wrote to HCI’s team: “During my time here in the hospital
I have come to understand that there are people in the world that, instead
of enjoying their vacations, they go to far away places to bring joy and
health to those in need. These people are all of you. You have left your
homes and traveled here to cure the sick people that you don’t even know.
Let me tell you that your work has more value than gold. I am writing you
this letter to let you know that I appreciate all the help you have given
me and to tell you that although we cannot repay you there is someone in
Heaven that sees all and He will give you your reward.”
|“If I can change the life of one child, that would be enough for me to want to do this work. If we each changed the life of one person, the world would be a different place.”|
The far-reaching effects of
Hope Clinic International
HCI’s efforts also include providing local physicians and surgeons with training, equipment, and supplies to help them care for their own people. HCI has renovated and equipped a pediatric operating room in a government hospital for women and children in Chinandega, Nicaragua. On each mission trip, HCI surgeons work together with a local surgeon to provide additional training and support.
Each HCI team is comprised of surgeons, pediatricians, nurses, paramedics, and / or other members of various churches and medical agencies who volunteer their time and expertise to serve on these medical and surgical mission trips. Many of the volunteers belong to The Sword of the Spirit, an international network of Christian communities located throughout the world. The teams care for 600 - 1,000 children during each two-week trip, providing an examination, all needed prescription medications, and vitamins to each child.
HCI’s mission trips not only benefit the poor but, as significant as it might be in the life of some child that receives a life-saving surgery, they are equally as life-giving to the volunteer doctors, nurses, and support staff involved in making the trip happen. As Dr. Joseph Lelli, a pediatric surgeon who frequently volunteers to serve on HCI surgery teams, says, “If I can change the life of one child, that would be enough for me to want to do this work. If we each changed the life of one person, the world would be a different place.”
All HCI mission team volunteers pay their transportation and other incidental
expenses of their own trip. However, the cost of medications and supplies
and team leaders is funded by the generosity of donors.
|If you would like to make a tax-deductible
financial contribution to HCI or learn more about our work, please visit
our Web site at www.hopeclinicinternational.org
Hope Clinic International