One of the projects that I visited is the "Hope Team" that visits and gives support to the patients and families in the hospital.
The Volunteers at the Santa Casa Hospital have a Mission statement that says:
Mission: to promote the volunteer action in looking after the patient in the Santa Casa Hospital and their relatives, to contribute with the process of humanizing the hospital ambience/ environment.
Since 11 September 1993.
Equipe da Esperança is an organisation that started 18 years ago and has about 80 volunteers from all sorts of professional backgrounds that dedicate their time as volunteers in the hospital for 3 hours once a week.
Equipe da Esperança is not a Christian organization but part of its volunteers are Christians. They offer not only their time to the project like every other volunteer, but they use this opportunity to share the love of Jesus to the people that they connect to in the hospital.
The patients usually come from Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. They have all sorts of illnesses and need all sorts of treatments that are offered in this hospital. The volunteers can offer support, love, attention, prayers, and whatever else they are able to help.
The way in which they help is:
- Receiving the families and attending the needs of the patients,
- Visiting different patients in all areas in the hospital,
- Giving support to the mothers in the maternity area,
- Playing and singing in all areas in the hospital,
- Making crafts, telling stories, playing games, presentations with clowns,
- Providing pumper day with hairdressing and make up,
- Collecting donations and distributing them to patients in need, etc.
They have a room where they keep all materials, clothing, and donations such as nappies, tooth paste, tooth brush, shampoo, soap, and other basics to be given to the patients who do not have enough money to buy such products.
I had the privilege to talk to Mercedes Tavares who is the president of the organization at the moment. She is a lovely Christian lady who has such love for Jesus and other people that she dedicates her time to share her love with people in need at the hospital.
She also teaches the chaplaincy course in church (my sister Marina and my brother-in-law Gustavo graduated last month from this course). In the organization Mercedes’ role is to make sure that all volunteers are offering all kinds of support to all families and that the partnership with the hospital can continue. In the course offered in the church her role is to teach Christians how to give spiritual support to the lost and to encourage people to maintain themselves strong in their faith when the situation is of suffering, loss, grieve, illness, etc.
The day of my visit I followed the team who organised a Christmas celebration to the mothers who just gave birth to their babies and for many reasons the babies had complications and had to be kept in the hospital for further treatments.
There were 7 mothers with their new born babies, the one who has been there the longest has been living there for the last 5 months. The mums have to live in the hospital, they do not go back home, their chair is next to their babies’ beds. All of them stay in the same room and they become a little family to each other. The volunteers visit them regularly, pray together, talk about life and Jesus, help them to keep strong as they suffer because of the unknown situation of their babies. It was an honour to participate of their first Christmas since they gave birth to their little angels. It was an emotional day for all of us.
The volunteers raised funds to buy presents for the mums and the babies. There was finger food, drinks and chocolate cake to celebrate Christmas.
Mercedes gave a message of Christmas and encouragement to each mother. We exchanged presents and all of us gave a message from God to each baby.
I also visited the area where they offer psychiatric treatment. The volunteers also visit the patients and their families weekly. Once a month they offer a pamper day, they offer manicure, pedicure, hairdresser, make-up and at the end of the day they have a celebration where every patient present themselves after the makeover.
I saw photos of the event and I could see some of the patients.
Until 2 years ago the hospital did not have a chaplaincy Christian program to offer to the patients. The programs were focus on financial support, preventing illnesses, social care, etc.
The chaplaincy program started 2 years ago and it has been a blessing to the patients and to the people who work in the hospital because the Christian volunteers not only work in each area of support, but also in the spiritual assistance to patients.
Equipe da Esperança finished the year 2011 with 12 programs in the hospital. Some of the programs are:
Celebrating Life – support for mothers giving birth, for mothers with babies with complications and their families
Hope Circle – visiting patients receiving psychiatric treatment
Telling Stories – visiting each patient to tell them a short story, to bring hope and a smile to them in such a hard time
Friendly Word – visiting each patient to sing and play music, to bring magazines, to talk to them and their families
Clowns and music – visiting children who are sick in the hospital to play games, talk, tell a story, etc
Chaplaincy – Christians who visit the patients to pray, give spiritual support, talk about Jesus, read the Bible together, give a word of hope and encouragement.
Friendly shoulder – offering support to families in the waiting area of the Intensive Care
Visit time – offering support to families in the time of visit
Emergency – offering support to the people arriving every minute in the emergency
Raising funds market – the volunteers produce goods to be sold in the market in the main hall of the hospital. The purpose of this is to raise funds to buy basic products to give to families in need. With the money raised they can buy nappies, hygiene products, baby clothes and any other basic necessity products.
But there are still many needs and work to do. Every 2 years the leadership needs to be changed. Mercedes has been praying for her succession to be a blessing from God to the project.
She will still be involved with all the programs but someone else needs to get the role of director for the next 2 years.
Equipe da Esperança is not a Christian organization but it is offering spiritual support because of Mercedes’ hard work and influence. Depending on the new director the programs might be changed and maybe the spiritual support won’t continue.
We must pray that God will raise a good leader who will continue the good work and will expand even more the support to all patients in the hospital, its doctors, nurses, families, workers, etc.
They have a list of 80 volunteers but only a few of them are actively giving their 3 hours a week every week. To be considered a volunteer a person can give maximum of 3 hours a week in an organization. If the person spends more time than this he or she is no longer considered volunteer and payment must be made for work done. They need people who can give time to the programs, if each volunteer can give 3 hours a week they will have a good team in the hospital. But what is happening is that many start the work and then they can’t make it anymore, or they are too busy, or circumstances change. The few volunteers who can give their time to the programs have to cover for others who are not able to participate.
They need more Christians who are willing to volunteer there so the chaplaincy program can expand to attend more areas of the hospital. With the growth of number of Christian volunteers the Christian presence in the hospital will grow and the program will be kept.
There are many who are willing to give support to the sick in the hospital but not many of those are Christians which means that support is coming from the world instead of from Jesus.
Participating of a day of work there I noticed that it is not hard to do this work. I spoke to some of the volunteers and they love this work, they love the people, they are happy to give something that they have to the ones who are suffering.
My opinion is that if you love Jesus you love his people. And you can’t help answering Jesus’ call to serve him in serving others in need. I don’t think we can call ourselves Christians if all we do is to attend church once a week. We can’t keep this gift from Jesus to ourselves, there are many people suffering without him and these people won’t hear about him if we don’t tell them.
It would be really nice to see people leaving their comfort zone behind and stepping into faith and service to God. Many will die without being reconciled to God. It is our call to make Jesus known to all people.
I pray that God will raise people who are servants and who love Jesus to take on this work in the hospital. If people could do this work full time as missionaries the impact in the hospital would be even greater and many would hear the name of Jesus and praise him forever.
Please pray for the leadership, for the relationship between Equipe da Esperança and the hospital, for the 12 programs to continue and grow, for each volunteer, for each patient and their families, and for God to raise missionaries who can work there full time to make Jesus known in that place.
I loved seeing the work they do there and my heart feels the pain and suffering of the people who do not know Jesus yet. This ministry is a great opportunity to reach out to the lost and to share our love for the Lord Jesus with others.
If you are interested in knowing more about this ministry and opportunities
please contact me by leaving a comment on the blog.
God bless you.