Puebla revisited
Risk-Taking Mission & Service continues in Mexico

An  Article  from  the  TN UMConnector  By  Rev.  Barbara  P.  Garcia

“It took a week to make me a believer!”


The eighteen women gathered with smiles, bags packed for the week, and energy to put the most fit and impervious to heat to the test. They had finished the first week of training as Community-based Primary Health Care Workers six months ago, and were now ready to continue with the Intermediate Course. Their energy, anticipation, faith and commitment inspired me more every kilometer that took us nearer the Tree of Life Training Center two hours from the city of Puebla. Here were women who were so excited to be serving their families and communities, and were answering God’s call to serve thousands who don’t have ready access to medical help.


Known as the More Than A Bandage Program in The Methodist Church of Mexico, and especially in the rural areas of south central Mexico, village women are equipped as volunteer primary health care workers in their community.  Through interactive learning and hands-on experiences, the women are equipped to return to their communities with the ability to share their knowledge and use their new skills. In this way the health workers empower people to prevent serious disease by changing the conditions in which cause it and treat illnesses in their earliest stages central to their own community.


The women attend 3 one-week long courses over an eighteen-month period. They experienced and learned about a variety of topics related to health issues. Upon completion of the first week’s course, the health workers were then invited to offer their services in addressing the health needs of their family, church and community.

In the Basic Course they learned about self-esteem, parenting, child development, vaccinations, basic sanitation, disinfecting fruits and vegetables, family nutrition, dental hygiene, and even how to build a dry composting toilet system! And with six months of sharing ‘back home’ about these most basic topics, they were ready for more!
In the Intermediate Course, they learned more about common diseases and their remedies, amoebas and parasites, CPR, and first aid measures to take care of burns, fractures, cuts and scrapes, hemorrhages, nose bleeds, bites, stings, and eye injuries, as well as learning about the symptoms of diseases, and even how to give intramuscular injections.


Because so many villages do not have doctors nearby, these women become crucial to the health and even lives of many people! But could they learn all this in a week?


Each woman was given a three-ring Binder filled with complete information on each topic, and an extensive First Aid Kit so that they were equipped for service upon return. Throughout the week they practiced just what they have learned, first with one of the other women. Then in teams, they had to present the “classes” to the whole group, using the teaching techniques they learned in the Basic Course as well as creating their own approaches and methods of teaching. By the end of the 7 days, they had observed, practiced, taught, demonstrated, taken written and oral exams, and then taught some more! Also, keep in mind this was not conducted in an air-conditioned hospital space, but rather in an open-air classroom at the Tree of Life Rural Training Center throughout long, hot days which began at 6:00 am and continued till 9:00 pm. On the last day, many had wet washcloths over their foreheads to combat the 86-95 degree heat in the shade - yet not one of them waned!


A special thank you:
A special word of thanks to the Tennessee Annual Conference from the 18 women themselves: “Gracias!... for the beautiful backpacks remaining from a Conference activity and by the AWARE Team from Brentwood UMC! The women were able to transport their huge notebooks and other materials back home ‘in style and security!’ And equally important, the women were thrilled to know that others are supporting them in their VERY BOLD ventures to serve their families and communities, helping to heal and serve others in the name of Jesus Christ. Thank you!”

It took being there and seeing the remarkable work and planning of the leaders in this program, plus all of the women at work to see that all this could be done in just one week!