Project MAESTRA Report
Friendship Mission in Paraguay has long been involved in bringing health care and education to the poorest communities in Paraguay. In August of 2006, it initiated the Project MAESTRA — Friendship Mission Health Extension Through Relationships and Assistance, with the purpose of improving the quality of life in the poorest sectors of those communities in which the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are present. The project has made strides in providing access to quality and affordable health service to impoverished communities by offering medical attention and information on health care.
Project MAESTRA offers health services through a mobile clinic taken into communities of extreme poverty and in which no other health care services are available. The team has opened files on each of the patients and began building a health record for each. The most commonly addressed health issues are diabetes and hypertension.
Health care service was given primarily through the Disciples of Christ churches in the communities of Luque, Arroyos y Esteros y Lambaré, all of which are located in marginalized and extremely impoverished communities. It was considered beneficial to the witness of the church to provide these services as it would make the ministries visible in the community.
Project MAESTRA now has a stable and dynamic team that provides health services as well as keeping good data on services provided. The team has completed 2,983 consultations, is serving in seven different communities, and works in eight treatment centers weekly in a consistent manner. In addition, the team is able to provide tests for diagnostics and common illness, especially specific to age groups.
Friendship Mission signed a Covenant of Cooperation with the Central State Government. The government would contribute to the project by allowing its local clinics, currently without medical staff, to be used as treatment centers, as well as providing medicines for the team’s use. Project MAESTRA will cover the costs of fuel, salary, and other expenses. This was a positive alliance because it provided increased treatment sites as well as additional patients but, above all, because it allowed for church presence in five very populated areas.
A private recycling firm requested the services of Project MAESTRA for its employees and the communities it serves. A Covenant of Cooperation agreement was signed between the company and Friendship Mission, and the firm provides the costs of fuel, salaries, and an honorarium to Friendship Mission to administer the Project. This is a new model to be used to establish other covenants with strategic businesses.
The Interdisciplinary Team for MAESTRA initiated a study to identify the percentage of the population treated that falls into the category of poor and extreme poverty. It was found that 79 percent of those treated are poor and 47 percent live in extreme poverty. This is the population that benefits from Project MAESTRA – a population that has no access to health services, nor demonstrates good quality or dignity of life. This preliminary study can be the base of further study that will be more in-depth and comprehensive and which can be presented objectively by Friendship Mission to the community with the hope of developing further health care projects on the national level.