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Team SOVA in El Pilón

What a day! Today we drove to the remote village of El Pilón San Francisco de Ojuera.The community belongs to the department of Santa Barbara and was founded in 1935. It consists of 250 people: 50 families with 50 homes. The community gets their water from a fountain located 2 kilometers (1.36 miles) away. To get to the nearest health center, they must walk for two hours.

As we drove up the steep mountainside, you could feel the air becoming more arid. The vegetation changed from lush tropical plants to dry grasses and corn stalks planted on sharp slopes. We were greeted by a pig who had the run of the community and several dogs and villagers. At the welcome (nicely done, Priscilla!), Tonia mentioned to the group that she had been here with FOB 10 years ago and shared watermelon with them. They erupted with cheers remembering that visit with gratitude. We setup the general clinic (which saw 142 patients) and pharmacy in the elementary school. Their kindergarten building acted as our dental clinic where we saw 35 patients and performed 32 extractions. Dr. Arita, assisted by Martha and John David, are amazing! A generous community member offered their home for our eye clinic where we saw 44 patients and gave out 42 pairs of glasses to some very happy recipients! We gave out 142 sets of vitamins and 64 antiparasite medications. We administered 23 fluoride treatments and gave 41 referrals--a sure sign of an impoverished community. 70% of the children are malnourished here. We hope that education and intervention will decrease this statistic. "We were fed by them and them by us," Reverand Michael reminded us tonight during evening devotion. Indeed, one gentleman in particular seemed exceptionally gracious in assisting us with keeping the crowds back and helping at every turn. We later discovered that his young son's cleft palate had been repaired by FOB many years ago. Now a young man, the former patient approached Dr. Moncada and gave her a big hug of thanks.

The care and love that these villagers have for one another was very touching. A young girl wandered into the eye clinic after getting a tooth of hers extracted. She held a cloth to her face and yet still held a smile on her beautiful face. As she began to leave, another girl, not much older, placed her hand around her waist and lovingly walked her up the dirt road. We weren't sure if she was a friend, a sister or a cousin, but we were reminded by her gentle gesture that we need to share our faith in works of mercy and kindness.

- Aimee Venn

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