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Story 3  Angela Robleto

Story 4  Elba Dina Ochoa

Story 5 Marcos Padilla

Story 6 Esteban Sánchez



 Empowering Health Leaders - Esteban Sánchez & Acción Médica Cristiana    By Alex Devoid

Esteban Paulino Sanchez Simieón is 56 yearsold and part of a large indigenousMiskito population in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) of Nicaragua.  He is from Eden, a community on the Prinzapolka River.  Alamikanbang, the nearest town with a hospital and roads, is one hour by foot then two hours up riverby motorboat from Eden.  Esteban is trained by AMC as a community pharmacist.  He is also a pastor.  Acción Médica Cristiana (AMC) works with leaders like Esteban to empower them as the first line of defense for community health.

Through a community health information system developed by AMC and the community, Esteban reports health problems to the government’s ministry of health.Esteban also shares health prevention information with the community andpractices traditional medicineby using natural remedies to cure many illnesses.  His services to the community are very valuable. Many people do not have access to transportation to the hospital.  An average journey on the river can take 3 hours and cost more than a day’s wage.

Esteban has been trained by AMC to prevent Illnesses at their root cause.  He says, “I train the community so that we all avoid illnesses.  I inform our community of the information that AMC gives me.  For example, I tell them to keep their yards clean, without mud or standing water, to reduce malaria.  I also inform them of the importance of cleanliness because that's why many [children] get sick and become malnourished.”  

Esteban is now more capable of providing this care.  He says, “I learned to managemedicines in order to help the community.  If they didn’t train me I would not be able to diagnose my patients.”  AMC teaches health leaders to recognize diseases and follow theappropriate course of action.  He shares, “Before, I felt like I didn't know anything to help my patient.  Now that AMC has trained me,when I see something, a problem or a sickness, I feel happy because I have the knowledge of medicines as a way to help.”Health leaders can prevent severe illnesses from becoming worse by just recognizing the signs and symptoms.  Esteban states, “There are many diseases, like tuberculosis.  When we see someone is sick, they have been coughing a lot, they are cold, and the have a fever for more than 8 days we know that they probably have tuberculosis.” With this information heath leaders can knowledgeablyreferpatients to the hospital.  He says, “If I can’t help them or I don't have the medicine to help them I send them to the hospital with a reference slip.”  AMC partners with community health leaders and the ministry of health to promote organized and efficient communication and improve the health care system. 

AMC also trains pastors like Esteban on HIV/AIDS and sexual & reproductive health. He promotes information within his community.  He says, “AMC taught us about AIDS.  So, the pastors teach this information to the people in order to have healthy communities.  They know very well that even newborns can get this disease because it is transmitted by blood.”AMC trains pastors how to communicate with their communities about sexual health.  Esteban says, ”we are taught not to preach to the congregation just to shame the person who has the disease.”  He continues, “We must give workshops to the communities to teach them to use condoms and to avoid these diseases.”  

Sexual health is a taboo topic for churches in the RAAN. A common belief states that a husband and wife should have as many children as God gives them without the inference of birth control. 
Esteban is trained by AMC to teach health prevention to his community.  When communities are informed of ways to prevent diseases human beings can dedicate their resources to leading fruitful and meaningful lives.

Alex Devoid was assigned to AMC as a Mission Intern of the United Methodist Church from August 2011 to January 2013. He spent several months in the RAAN interviewing and documenting stories to demonstrate the human impact of AMC's work. Link to more stories in left menu   Read Alex's missionary biography and his blog.