Guatemala - A small Salesian hospital for the poorest

03 June 2019

(ANS - San Benito Petén) - In San Benito, in the heart of Guatemala, there is a public hospital that cannot manage to meet the demands of the population: it is the only health facility in the entire Department of Petén, a region as large as Belgium, with a population exceeding one million inhabitants. To meet, at least in part, the needs of the most disadvantaged population, the Salesian missionary Fr Giampiero De Nardi, with the help of medical and nursing staff, offers health support to the poorest.

Fr De Nardi brings forth his mission in the heart of Guatemala with strength, determination and great sensitivity to the social inequalities that have always characterized Guatemalan society. He is an old-style missionary: he runs the oratory, celebrates Mass in the parish and in the surrounding neighborhoods, helps those who knock on his door ... But he is also a young priest who is attentive to gender issues (he opened a Help Desk for women who are victims of domestic abuse in one of the most violent countries of Central and South America, for one...) and those of infancy (unfortunately in Guatemala the rate of child sexual abuse is very high).

The medical dispensary attached to the Salesian parish is one of the activities to which he is most attached. Because of the scarce availability of drinking water and of hygienic precariousness, diseases are widespread: tuberculosis, typhus, malaria, worms and diarrhea, skin diseases ... But also psychological problems (depression is widespread), respiratory diseases, sometimes fatal for children and the elderly, digestive problems, AIDS, genital infections, early and risky pregnancies, exanthematous diseases …

All these ills easily afflict women, and even more children, because they are the most vulnerable and also because there is the highest rate of chronic infantile malnutrition in Latin America: 49.3% of children under the age of five suffer from lack of food.

The medical dispensary fails to be economically independent because the drugs are distributed free to needy families. A tube of antiviral ointment, an anti-parasite pack, folic acid tablets - essential for preventing fetal malformations - are "luxuries" that too many people cannot afford in San Benito. For this reason, Fr De Nardi has asked for help from the Don Bosco Missions of Turin: the Salesian wants to continue to guarantee medicines and treatments to anyone in need.

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ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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