Skip to main content

Poverty in Paraguay

We were awoken at 11:30 two nights ago with banging at our door. We didn’t answer, thinking it could be a drunk. My heart just sinks every time we got a nighttime notification. The last two times we were jarred awake from our sleep, accidents and death were involved. Everyone has our cell phone, so if it was legit appeal, they’d call. Sure enough, five minutes later we got a phone call. Our housekeeper’s brother called to let us know our housekeeper was in the hospital for kidney stones. She would need to be operated on and the surgery would cost $1,000!

We told them that they should check other hospitals (this was a private hospital and they charge a lot more than the public institutions). Yesterday, I drove Susana and six of her family members an hour south to another hospital that charges half the price for the surgery. Of course, they don’t provide blankets and gloves, so I brought those along (I learned that through a crazy experience three years ago).

Her pressure was too low to operate, so I’ll have to go back today to help check her in so she can be operated on tomorrow. Since she and her family do not have any kind of health insurance, she will be relying on us, her patrons, to provide for her. We told her we’d be able to pay half the surgery and her family members would need to come up with the other half.

However, I laid awake last night wondering how her family would pay the other $250 that is their responsibility. They are all day wagers who just live day by day, $250 is over one month’s salary! Susana’s husband is in Buenos Aires being checked on for an illness, so he’s been out of work for 2 months. They have six children and they are late on their property payments by 12 months. We’ve bailed them out so many times before, but we constantly struggle with balancing our duty to them and allowing them to take responsibility for their lives. They are all alone.

The government doesn’t care about the working poor.

There are few to no social institutions to help the impoverished in our region.

The church doesn’t give them a hand.

We are the only people they know that can assist them.

Sometimes I just want to wash my hands of their aches and pains, since we feel so incapable of solving their problems. Giving money is just a short term fix. These folks need education, low-cost health care. Somebody has to address these growing problems in Paraguay. The poor need a network of support so they can get on their feet. The sickening truth is that there is none to be found.

This is just one more reason why I feel like our next direction is micro-enterprise and community development. We are restless in spirit as we think of what needs to be done to bring about social reform for Paraguay’s 2,000,000 that live in poverty. We want to make a difference here and it's overwhelming to know where to begin.


Popular posts from this blog

September highlights. A month in Paraguay

I want to thank you for hanging out with us this past month. Every day was different. Sometimes I wish I had more of a routine. But in my missionary role, routine is not something I experience very often. Here are a few September highlights.

We traveled to Asuncion, to get some paperwork done. The trip to Asuncion generally takes six hours on a two lane road, with crazy traffic. We avoid these trips as much as possible. 

I was part of a Baptism ceremony in the Parana River. 28 people made a public commitment. The Parana Rive is the second one in size after the Amazon River.

I had a chance to continue my bible teaching at our local church on Tuesday evenings. I fill in various classes and find teaching very rewarding.
We celebrated Anahi’s 6th birthday with our immediate family. Anahi is finishing her preschool and will start first great next year

We celebrated Dominick’s 4th month. He also got his shots last week. Dominick has occupied the center of attention. He has been a great joy for …

Christmas in Paraguay!

If you're wondering what Paraguayans do at Christmastime, they have some great traditions, including the "noche buena" meal on Christmas Eve at midnight.  They eat lots chipa guasu (a type of corn casserole, stay tuned for a recipe), asado or grilled meat (some eat it cold), salads, especially fruit salad, watermelon and drink mucho terere.

Families travel from all over the country, many even return from working in other countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Spain, to celebrate with loved ones. This is us at last year's Kurrle celebration in Asuncion. Festivities are anything but a silent night with fireworks, loud music and drinking cidra (hard cider). 

Most Paraguayans do not decorate Christmas trees (we decorate ours in shorts!) or emphasize Santa Claus.  Instead, they put beautiful nativities "pesebres" in their yards and in store fronts.  Kind of novel to focus on Christ at Christmas, isn't it!

To beat the heat, many Paraguayans go to a river to rel…

Technology in missions

As I started my day, within a few hours, I had a list of things to do. By 10 am I had enough items to keep me busy for a week. After several hours in the office, I was able to send audio messages and video conference with people on both side of the Equator. I sent letters out to several people in just a few seconds. I posted on FB, and I googled some maps while listening to a webinar.
Did my grandparents or even my parents have these technologies? The answer is no. David and Lilian Meier left on a steam ship the port of New Orleans in December of 1935 towards South America. All the field knowledge they had was a letter from a German missionary who wrote to America saying. Will someone come to Brazil?

That was the beginning. Their first trip lasted a decade serving in several places in South America. There where no phone calls, no daily FB updates and no cool Instagram pictures. Few words on a telegram, or when letters were written they delivered weeks later were the ways of communica…