New Humanity Movement

Health: Person, Environment

childrenA pediatrician’s action in a Recife hospital: Agreement with her colleagues who wish to live fraternity, making them more aware of their patients’ problems. In this way a project for correct nutrition develops that involves the whole region.

from Maria Aparecida de Araujo - Recife (Brazil)

My name is Maria, and I’m a doctor specializing in pediatrics. The ideal of fraternity has given meaning to my life, but in particular it has revolutionized my professional vocation.

A few years ago, I heard Chiara Lubich encouraging people in the same work-environment to agree to live the spirit of fraternity together in that same place. It was an agreement that would give us an opportunity to be more attentive and receptive to the problems of the city and of work-places, improving working structures for the benefit of everyone. I was really interested in this proposal.

I work as a pediatrician in a hospital clinic in Recife and I remembered that there were at least two people I could share this choice with—they already knew and lived for fraternity. Straightaway I told them of my desire to make this agreement with them and they accepted. It seemed easy to see each other every morning and renew our commitment to live for our patients and colleagues, involving ourselves in a way that others could notice, but it wasn’t—we had to overcome human respect, rationalizations, and judgments. But slowly, without getting discouraged, a more human relationship grew between our colleagues and with the patients, and this helped us to give more concrete replies to their questions, fully understanding their sufferings.

One of the most urgent problems has to do with infant nutrition, which is also connected with the poverty of these people, their poor education and lack of information regarding these matters. We started a programme for these children aimed at their mothers—it was an educational proposal letting them know of the risks involved with the wrong nutrition and about the use of domestic medicines.

Having overcome some resistances, we worked on heightening the awareness of those professionally involved, and succeeded in getting the administration to set up a special kitchen. There the mothers, professionals and students from the University’s Nutrition Department, took a theoretical and practical course where the whole team were taught how to use alternative foods, choosing ones which were low in cost but high in nutritional value. The teaching followed a method that respected the popular recipes of the region. By encouraging the participation of the parents, who became more confident that their children could be helped, the programme made it possible for us to heal many children.

Because of this programme we were invited by the Secretariat of the State of Pernambuco to introduce the same programme to other municipalities in the region. We’ve applied the programme over three years in about 50 different municipalities, with concrete results. This work has been appreciated and presented in some conferences on health, and has also been written up in an academic thesis.

It was a true experience of fraternity with my colleagues. I would never have thought there could be all these developments of a project, which we began, according to our little measure of love, for the patients of our city.
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