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Who is Tia?

10648188_10152837545225281_6335118067317543355_oTia uses a ‘teach them to fish’ model to train and equip villagers, who live hours from the nearest doctor.  They learn to deliver babies, treat diabetes, handle first aid cases and most importantly, how to tackle their problems together, as an organized community. Our model is sustainable because the local governments commit to resupply the Tia medical kits and provide continuing education.

Thanks to generous donors, like the Ingebritson, Armstrong, Libman and Pakis families, Tia now serves around 192,000 people for less than $5 a person, including overhead.

¿Quién es Tía?

Tía aplica el modelo de “Enseñar a Pescar”, con el cual capacita y equipa a los habitantes (leer mas) Continue reading “Who is Tia?”

We Hired 2 New Doctors!


The Tia Foundation has just hired two new doctors!  Thank you to everyone who contributed monthly to bring on Doctors Cuauhtemoc and Tamarha!  With their help, we will be on track to bring sustainable healthcare to over one million people by 2025.

Dr. Cuauhtemoc wanted to say, “Thanks for your supporting this project with your help we bring sustainable health care to communities. Muchas gracias for helping us empower people in their communities.  Thank you so much for helping to make a big difference in small communities.  Gracias,  with your help, we bring a greater sense of community to people by teaching how to take care of each other.  Thank you so much for helping us to help other people to help more people, which is the best kind of help.”

Dra. Tamarha wrote, “I’m very grateful to all of you who gave me the opportunity to participate in this amazing association.  When I was in Med school I went to my first brigade, I didn’t know what was happening or what was I doing, I only knew that the important thing was to help people, now I realize that that was the moment when TIA foundation showed me the other way to love medicine, and for it I will be forever grateful.  I am very happy to be part of this project.”

Both doctors are deeply committed to Tia’s mission and will help us to reach more people than ever.  The Tia Foundation is grateful to our supporters whose monthly contributions will make a lasting difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

 

Kathryn, Tia Volunteer

Kat

We bumped along the dirt road. A golden disc of sunlight backlit layer after layer of purple mountains framed with glowing pink fog.

As we climbed higher into the mountains, I peered out the van’s window at rolling hills covered in spikey blue agave that would soon be made into mezcal. We were headed toward a town called Zapotitlan de Vadillo, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Guadalajara.

If you’ve never heard of Zapo. De V., that’s okay. Most Guadalajarans haven’t either. I certainly didn’t know it existed until I agreed to join Laura Libman and The Tia Foundation medical brigade on this trip to bring health care to underserved communities in rural Mexico.

There were over a dozen of us packed into two rented vans—several doctors, a psychologist, a nutritionist, a nurse, Tia staff, and a few people who just wanted to help, like me.

We bounced around another turn. Impossibly, yet another mountain came into view. We continued along the winding, pot-hole-ridden road past grazing cow, cacti the size of large trees, narrowly missing a stray dog poking its head out of a roadside bush.

As we reached the crest of a mesa, I thought, “We’re literally on top of the world.” Then of course, the fog faded a little to reveal the outline of yet another towering ridge. That’s about how the last several hours had been: one unbelievable view after another, interspersed between dusty roads, hair-pin turns, and plummeting cliffs.

Since we’d arrived in Zapo. De V., we’d started our days with a homemade, locally-cooked breakfast and a drive into the mountains. Today’s trek was long, giving me time to think over the week so far.

We’d treated hundreds of patients. Taught 84 local health workers everything from the Heimlich maneuver to burn treatment to broken leg setting. And we’d put together botiquines (medical kits) that would serve thousands more.

When I thought about it, it blew my mind.

I helped do this. Me.

I have no medical experience, like Doctors Temok and Guillermo; no psychology expertise, like Fabian. And I wasn’t a trained nurse or nutritionist like Linda and Katherine. On top of that, my Spanish is embarrassing. I hadn’t known anyone on this trip until a few days ago.

Somehow, I’d found my little niche as honorary brigade pharmacist because what I could do was keep Tia’s boxes of pharmaceuticals organized and read scribbled doctors’ handwriting to ensure patients got the right dosages.

So when the vans finally pulled to a stop outside the tiny, sparsely furnished centro de salud, I hopped out automatically and started unloading boxes to set up my farmacia in the back room. Then I helped complete consultations with several dozen more patients.

That afternoon, instead of rushing down the mountain after consultations to teach, we hurried down to celebrate. Students would share cauldrons of birria, pots of beans and rice, piles of warm hand-made tortillas, and coolers of horchata and tamarind juice to thank us for our help. We’d take photos with locals like we were celebrities and find each other on Facebook.

Then, we’d fall into hard beds in shared rooms for a few hours of much-needed rest before piling back into vans headed for Guadalajara.

I knew I’d be dog-tired, but I didn’t care. My week with the Tia volunteer brigade was no vacation. But it was an unforgettable trip that changed thousands of lives for the better—including my own.

Won’t you come join us next time?

The author of this and other stories to be featured here is Katherine Casna.  After traveling into the field on a Tia project, Kat generously donated these lovely stories to make our work come alive to our friends and donors.  Thoughtful and brilliant, Ms. Casna is a freelance writer who can be reached at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathryn-casna-freelance-writer/

Dr. Roberto

When Dr. Roberto walked into the Centro de Salud, you noticed. Everyone did. Even among a brigade of lab-coated doctors and volunteers, he stood out as the man who quietly took charge of the situation. It didn’t matter what the day brought—corrupt federales barking up the wrong group of volunteers for a bribe, a lesson on how to deliver a baby without a hospital, or enjoying homemade tortillas and posole  while conducting health interviews in private homes. Dr. Roberto steered the ship.

It helped that Dr. Roberto’s six-foot, broad-shouldered stature towered over almost everyone. It also helped that he had a friendly face and an infectious smile—and that he knew how to use them. They helped soften his no-nonsense commands to set up the patient intake table here, la farmácia over there, and a quiet area for psychological services out back.

Even with exams in full swing and the line, dozens of patients long, moving right along, it was hard to lose sight of Dr. Roberto. If you did, it was because we was taking a rare break.

On these occasions, you might find him squatting to pet a stray dog, making kissing noises at the pooch and paying no mind the mud squishing onto his tennis shoes like chocolate frosting on a cake.

Or, you might find Dr. Roberto sitting on a tree stump, smoking a cigarette, baseball cap turned backwards and a plaid shirt and jeans peaking out of his open lab coat. He’d be contemplating the sweeping mountain views before him. Or perhaps simply enjoying a few moments of well-deserved rest.

Typically, a Tia brigade would leave Guadalajara before dawn and travel by van for several hours on the first day of a trip. They’d rush to their first community, set up for consultations, and help as many people as possible in the few short hours allotted.

Then, Dr. Roberto would give the order to pack up and head to town where the group would teach skills like splinting broken limbs with things you’d find around the house and how to recognize and treat dehydration. All who want to learn are welcome.

On these trips, some of the brigade returned again and again, while others had no idea what to expect.

Dr. Roberto’s first brigade was years ago, and he was hooked ever since. Most communities Tia visits see a doctor once a year or less. All the communities have a Centro de Salud, but these small, spartan clinic rely on unpaid medical students who travel around to serve many communities. It’s community service, required as part of medical education.

Roberto loved it. “Most students hate it,” he’ll say, if you ask him. “But I’d rather be out here in the dust and mugre, where people need us, not in an office.”

Nine years after his first brigade, Dr. Roberto is Tia’s Medical Director and boots-on-the-ground coordinator in Guadalajara. And we couldn’t do any of it without him.

The author of this and other stories to be featured here is Katherine Casna.  After traveling into the field on a Tia project, Kat generously donated these lovely stories to make our work come alive to our friends and donors.  Thoughtful and brilliant, Ms. Casna is a freelance writer who can be reached at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathryn-casna-freelance-writer/