Building Healthy Communities
Health is at the very core of much of the world’s poverty and suffering. Deadly diseases leave parents without children, and children with no families must fend for themselves. We work in partnership communities on improving and sustaining health. We adopt a community-level approach to address unique needs of populations, including capacity building of health professionals, increasing access to health information and health facilities, and improving the quality of health resources. Beyond the community-level, our work strengthens health systems by supporting district and national-level facilities and staff.Donate Today
Democratic Republic of Congo
The day after Christmas in the small community of Dedere, Paula Orlando went into labor. Only 17 years old, Paula had never had a baby before, so when the second day passed with no progress, she began to worry. By the fourth day of intense pains, Paula began to panic. The nearest clinic was more than 15 miles away, and the rural community had no means of transportation. Her family took turns comforting her and praying, but there was little else they could do.
By the end of the fourth day, someone recalled the story of a pregnant woman who had been taken to the clinic several months prior. She too had been experiencing labor difficulties when a bicycle ambulance arrived and took her to the clinic. Inspired, the family rushed from the home and began knocking on doors, asking everyone they met if they knew of the bicycle ambulance. Somebody directed them to a home of an ADRA Health Council member only a few miles down the road. They ran to the house, and the bicycle was immediately released into their care.
Back at the house, Paula was carried out to the waiting ambulance, a covered cot attached to the back of a bicycle. In less than two hours, Paula was safely in a hospital bed, and in less than an hour upon arrival, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
When most people think of an ambulance, they imagine the flashing lights, piercing siren, and high speeds. But in many parts of the world, it is as simple as a bicycle. And even though it may lack the medical equipment and flashy technology, it is no less capable of saving lives.
Because of that one bicycle ambulance, more than 20 women have safely given birth to their babies. Members of the community are so proud of the ambulance that they all contribute money to its maintenance. Now everybody has access to the hospital, just a short ride away.
Ramesh began drinking alcohol at 18, but it escalated to a more serious problem after he married. “He started to fight with me every night,” his wife, Angala, said. “He always wanted money to buy alcohol.”
Though he had a job as a day laborer, a common job in India, Ramesh never seemed to have enough money. He would harass his wife for the paycheck she made working at a gas station, which she needed to support their children.
Ramesh began beating his wife and children to the extent that they no longer set foot inside the house if he had been drinking. The neighbors complained to the police, but he was consistently let go with just a warning.
ADRA heard about his case and sent representatives to invite him to their addiction treatment center. He refused, insulting them as they left.
His regression continued as he turned to the bottle, always drinking, demanding money from his family, and beating them if they refused him.
One night, he finally drank too much. He was alone in the house when his daughter walked in the door. He told her to give him money, and she said she had none. He started yelling at her, demanding that she hand over her money. When she repeated that she had none, he grabbed a knife from the counter and stabbed her in the neck. The neighbors heard the screams and rushed her to the hospital.
Only then, after 22 years of addiction, did Ramesh realize he needed help.
Once he was sure that his daughter would make a full recovery, Ramesh contacted the ADRA representatives and signed himself into their care for addiction treatment and rehabilitation.
That night was nearly two years ago, and Ramesh hasn’t had a single drink of alcohol since.
“I lost 22 years of my life to alcohol,” he said. “I am trying to make it up to my children and wife.”
Sober and employed, Ramesh now has only one goal: to save money for his daughter’s wedding.
“I am grateful to ADRA for their de-addiction treatment support,” Ramesh said. “I now enjoy every minute with my family.”
Addiction is a problem all over the world, destroying lives and pulling families apart. ADRA works to help people recover and to find an alternative to substance abuse.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Jeanne is a 33-year-old farmer and mother to six children. She lives in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but she is like every mother in the world, and nothing is more important to her than keeping her beautiful children healthy.
When ADRA met with Jeanne, she was pregnant with her sixth child. Each of her first five children had to be hospitalized for malnutrition or illness, some multiple times.
ADRA works with new mothers to teach them the importance of nutrition, breast-feeding, vaccinations, and other crucial health priorities.
The health history of her first five children made Jeanne a perfect match for an ADRA program focusing on new mother and baby health.
ADRA introduced Jeanne to a “leader mother,” a local mother who has been trained to help others. This leader mother encouraged her to seek regular prenatal care. While this is standard procedure in more developed countries, regular pregnancy visits aren’t as common in DRC where Jeanne lives, and she never had care for her first five pregnancies.
Jeanne learned about the importance of breast-feeding immediately and exclusively, which is especially crucial for new babies in regions where malnutrition is a common concern. Once her sixth baby was born, ADRA began supplying Jeanne with rations of fortified porridge so that she remained nourished enough to supply her baby with enough milk to thrive.
“This one is my sixth birth, and my son Armand does not fall sick often. For me, it is a miracle, because I have never experienced that since becoming a mother,” says Jeanne.
Her leader mother also taught Jeanne about simple practices for good health, such as washing hands regularly, making sure her children are vaccinated, and providing nutrition for young ones.
After experiencing so much trauma in the health of her first five children, Jeanne finds it very exciting to have a healthy baby. “With Armand, things are very different; we are at the eighth month without hospitalization,” Jeanne shares. “I am convinced that it is through the application of these teachings brought to me by the leader mother and consumption of porridge that I and my baby are doing well.”
As he lay in bed, delirious from drugs, Roberto felt himself slipping away. Crack cocaine had been consuming his thoughts for years and his body for months, and now it finally seemed to be taking his life.
When he was a teenager, skipping class and drinking beer with his friends, Roberto never would have predicted that drugs could one day ruin him. Everything had seemed fine, even as he transitioned into smoking marijuana and using cocaine.
He felt in control. He even married and started a family, but increasingly, his money and time were spent on drugs.
His mother began to suspect drug abuse, and she put Roberto in a rehabilitation center. He emerged a new man—until he discovered crack cocaine, a highly addictive and dangerous narcotic. His mother paid for a second treatment plan, then a third, and a fourth.
Nothing was working for Roberto, and he continued to feed his addiction, even as his body deteriorated. That night on the bed, as he felt himself fading, Roberto weighed 120 pounds.
“I thought I was going to die,” he said.
His mother decided to try one more treatment plan that she had heard about from a friend: an ADRA center named Pro Vida (“pro-life”). She loaded Roberto in her car and drove to the remote state of Bahia in Northeast Brazil.
Pro Vida is one of four ADRA projects in Brazil designed to promote recovery from addiction. Pro Vida alone has helped more than 800 people since 2001.
“I didn’t think it was going to work,” Roberto said. “I had already been to four different treatments, some of them among the best one can find.”
Pro Vida was different. It was more than just plans and processes, which had all failed him before. It was community, it was friendship, and it was spirituality. Never had Roberto received spiritual care like he did at Pro Vida.
The skilled and loving staff offered prayer and Bible lessons in addition to detox and lifestyle changes.
“Pro Vida saved my life,” he said. It’s a message that Roberto is now spreading all over Brazil, to children and adults alike. He is especially active at public schools in his native state, where he shares his experiences with students and urges them to avoid drugs.
Roberto has been reunited with his overjoyed wife and children, as well as his mother, who never stopped praying for him. He is using the lessons he learned from ADRA’s program to stay healthy and strong and provide a good example for his children.