Basic Health Education Project
Disciples of Christ Church in Argentina
The Disciples of Christ Church in Argentina has a strong commitment to education. Many congregations and communities face the need to address health issues related to illnesses that are becoming more prevalent and for which there has been little or no education due to cultural, moral, and religious stigmas, such as HIV/AIDS. This was the impetus to create the Basic Health Education Project which is a traveling education program that has been in action since 2005. The program is offered to Disciples as well as other churches, ecumenical groups, and non-governmental organizations. The project is headed by Ines Sarli, M.D., who completed her term as Global Ministries missionary to Paraguay in 2005 and returned to her native Argentina to serve as a global mission volunteer.
In 2008, the Disciples Basic Health Education Project continued to educate the people of Argentina (and, at times, neighboring countries) by conducting a number of workshops on a variety of important topics.
Dr. Sarli led workshops in the interior of the country in an area with little access to health care. The majority of attendees were women that would otherwise have to travel to Buenos Aires for medical attention, a trip that is at least two hours on public transportation. The area is very poor and environmentally polluted and its residents include many immigrants from nearby countries like Peru, Paraguay, and Bolivia. The employment possibilities, especially for youngsters, are very limited and they are forced to work as “cartoneros” (gathering of paper and cardboard) and to transport clothes from the trucks to the markets at Salada. The workshops were about childhood illnesses (especially meningitis because some cases had been found), vaccinations, sexually transmitted diseases, pollution-related illnesses, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The workshops also included teaching young women how to check blood pressure, temperature, pulse, etc., and encouraged them to study to be medical assistants. A lot of them have already started some related courses in March. Classes are given once or twice a month.
The Basic Health Education Project also participated with other church-related programs in their events, offering training. The Ecumenical Center for Solidarity Action (CEASOL) held workshops bringing together women from different churches including Disciples of Christ, Methodists, and Catholics. Workshop topics included Human Trafficking; Child and Elder Abuse; Humane Labor; Sexually Transmitted Diseases, AIDS and Rape; Drug Abuse; and a meeting on Health Rights. In addition, a Bible study was started on women in the Old Testament. The Ecumenical Movement for Human Rights (MEHD) held a workshop in June 2008 on child abuse, pornography, and teen pregnancy from legal and medical perspectives with a multidisciplinary approach.
Additional workshops held in 2008 included:
- A workshop at the Women’s Forum on Reproductive Health and another Reproductive Health workshop in Uruguay
- A workshop on Human Trafficking for the Disciples of Christ Church in the Chaco Region
- And a workshop for kids entitled “Global Net of Religions in Favor of Peace” which over 110 kids attended from very poor areas as well as government representatives from Buenos Aires