This is a tragedy but it has some bright spots and there are many wonderful programs where generous and talented people give not just of their resources but of their very lives in order to lessen this disparity.
One of the best known is called Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières). Then there are two wonderful hospital ships that plod up and down the coast of Africa pulling into ports and making health care available to the tens of thousands who otherwise would never be able to receive it.
I am proud of the fact that right here in the Diocese of Austin there is a long established, generous tradition of reaching out to our neighbors in the south, whether it be Mexico, Guatemala or even the South American continent itself. The average medical mission from our Diocese usually lasts about eight days – one day going down, five days of providing health care in a particular city or rural center, one day of relaxation in that area and then home. When I used to work with these groups, I would say that on the average the Austin Medical Mission would deliver services to about 2,500 patients. In all honesty, it was not the greatest medical aid in the world but it was better than anything available in the area in which we visited. May God bless the generosity and faith of the hundreds of Central Texans who have done this over the last 25 years.
Without exception, volunteers have all expressed that this week of generous service to others is a profoundly moving experience. The day begins with Mass and breakfast, and when the work begins there are usually about 200 people already waiting in line. The medical team works vigorously until the end of the day and the cooks have cold beer and drinks waiting for them. I was a pill counter at first but then not being too good at counting, I was cut back to the job of icing down the beer.
The leading force behind this ministry is Mr. Tino Hernandez whose address is 110 Raley Road, Cedar Park, Texas 78613, telephone (512) 259-5746. If you want to help on the next one, you need to know that you don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse. We need cooks, drivers and pill counters.