Dale Hanson Bourke

Recent Posts by Dale Hanson Bourke:

A Gift of Health For A Gifted Student

Dulce Maria is an excellent student. She never misses school and at just 10 years old, she is mature beyond her years.

That’s why it surprised her teacher when she had a hard time paying attention in class and began to rest her head on her desk. Soon it became apparent that Dulce Maria was very ill.

“I touched her forehead and she was hot to the touch. She said her head and throat hurt,” said her teacher, Edna Galicia. “But despite her illness, she did not want to miss school.”

Dulce Maria lives in a rural area of the Guatemalan municipality of San Cristóbal Acasaguastlán.

During the week, her mother works in a nearby town processing sugar cane, so she lives with her grandmother. But her grandmother has no cell phone and the nearest clinic is a three-hour walk away. Her grandmother watched her growing more and more ill, but there was nothing she could do.

Finally, her teacher alerted Dr. Mayra Franco at the town clinic about Dulce Maria’s condition. Dr. Mayra, as she prefers to be called, spends most mornings in the clinic and then makes “house calls” during the afternoons to the citizens living in outlying rural areas. So Dr. Mayra made the long journey to check on Dulce Maria.

“When I examined her, it was clear she was very, very sick,” says Dr. Mayra. “She had a severe case of strep throat that had gone untreated for quite a while.”

Without treatment, strep can turn into rheumatic fever, causing long-term damage to a child’s heart and lungs. It is the leading cause of heart damage for children in developing countries.

Fortunately, Dr. Mayra had recently received pediatric antibiotics from MAP International, in partnership with Food for the Poor. The antibiotics were exactly what she needed to help treat Dulce Maria’s condition.

“She started to feel better in just a few days,” says her grandmother. “I am so very grateful to God and those who made it possible for Dulce Maria to receive this free medicine,” she says.

“Many of us here are very poor,” she continued. “But we love our children and want the best lives for them. I am so glad that Dulce Marie feels better and can study again. She loves school.”

Recently Mayor Jeaneth Ordonoz visited Dulce Maria’s school. When the children were asked, “Who wants to be mayor one day?”Dulce Maria’s hand shot up and her eyes sparkled.

Thanks to the antibiotics you helped MAP supply, Dulce Maria may one day make her dream come true. 

Topics: Medicine for the World Pediatric Antibiotics

What Happens When Medicine Isn't Available

This piece originally appeared in Physician Family magazine, Summer 2018

We hardly give it a second thought. A cut finger and we grab a bandage from the first aid kit. A slight fever and we run to the medicine cabinet for Ibuprofen. Something more serious and our physician calls in a prescription which we pick up at the nearby pharmacy.

But for millions of people living in poor countries, there are no first aid kits or medicine cabinets. Pharmacies, often a day’s journey or more away, stock medicine far too expensive for the average person—or worse, pills made of useless or toxic materials.

So cuts go untreated and uncovered—often resulting in major infections. Fevers continue to rise and diseases go untreated. And chronic conditions that could be easily managed become an early death sentence.

Topics: Haiti life-changing medicines

Showing Love with Medicine

People began to line up just as the sun was rising. By 8 am, the line circled the entire block with the small church in the center.

We had come from the US to the Dominican Republic to help a small church with a building project and their Vacation Bible School. But when the pastor found out we could bring medicine and medical supplies, he was thrilled. “We’ll host a pop up clinic!” he told us in English.

The concept sounded oddly trendy in the dusty community just outside Santo Domingo, but we were happy to follow the pastor’s lead. He arranged for three local doctors and a med student to volunteer and the night before the clinic, we all sorted the medicine and vitamins we had brought from MAP and made a list of what was available.

Topics: Medicines Dominican Republic medical missions

Lessons of Faith in the Midst of Disaster

As parishioners filed out of the morning church service in Escuintla, Guatemala, on a warm June day, some were complaining. Why did they have to keep sitting on plastic chairs?

Topics: disaster health kits volcano guatemala

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