On a Thursday afternoon at about 4 o’clock, Evelyn came into the Mission of Hope clinic with 3 children in tow. She was so weak that she could hardly walk. She was so very thin that she looked like she was only skin and bones. She looked to be about 50 years old, but she was really only 34.
Evelyn went in to see one of our doctors. Evelyn appeared to be in the end stage of tuberculosis. The next day, a chest x-ray confirmed the diagnosis. Evelyn was dying.
Fabricio, our clinic administrator, accompanied Evelyn to her home, in hopes of finding family members or close friends who could help her. He found out that Evelyn’s husband had abandoned her and she lived in one room with 5 children. They had no electricity, no water, and no bathroom. Before Evelyn got sick, she had earned money by washing clothes. When she became too sick to work, she began selling everything she had to buy food for her children. She had now come to the end. The only thing left in the room was a mattress, where Evelyn and the 5 children slept together. Seeing this, Fabricio realized that it was very possible that the 5 children also had tuberculosis.
Fabricio said it reminded him of the Bible story in 1 Kings 17:12 of the widow preparing her last meal and preparing to die because she had no more food. That night, Fabricio could not sleep. The next day, he arranged for an ambulance to take Evelyn to a public hospital. He then started calling children’s homes and orphanages, trying to find a place for the children to go when Evelyn died. No one wanted to take 5 children who had been exposed to tuberculosis.
Meanwhile, no one at the hospital wanted to help Evelyn, and she was sent home without treatment. Fabricio and one of our nurses went to her home that evening to administer intravenous fluids. Monday morning, the Mission of Hope staff took up an offering from their personal money to buy food for Evelyn and the children.
The Bolivian government has tuberculosis treatment centers where patients can go every day and receive free medicines. Evelyn had been in treatment months before but had not completed the treatment, which meant that she might now have a resistant strain. Fabricio convinced the doctor who oversees the program to give Evelyn one more opportunity, saying that he would take responsibility for her. Fabricio also arranged for one of the neighbors to cook for Evelyn and the children. He then prayed that Evelyn would live long enough to receive the treatment!
With the prayers and support of the Mission of Hope staff, Evelyn gradually began to improve. Evelyn and the children did complete their treatment and are now well and healthy. Evelyn is so grateful for the love and care that she received. She is now reaching out to others who are in need, telling them about Mission of Hope. Recently, when a very poor mother died leaving her one year old son orphaned with no one to take care of him, Evelyn took him in as her own! He is pictured here with her children in the blue cap.