Sacred Heart School
Annual Por Cristo Walk
Good Friday

The Por Cristo Story

Por Cristo was founded in 1979 in response to a challenge given to the Church of North America by Pope John Paul, II during his visit to Boston. The challenge: to share the wealth of our medical knowledge with developing countries - was realized in Latin America. In an area of the world where the magnitude of need is overwhelming, Por Cristo initially chose to work with the vast numbers of facially deformed children in the slums of Ecuador who appeared to be the most vulnerable.

Por Cristo's early successes led to the expansion of specialized medical teams in pediatric and adult burn care, pediatric orthopedic surgery, rehabilitation services, primary care, pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery, neonatal and pediatric intensive care, maxillofacial surgery (facial reconstruction) and craniofacial microsomia (a specific and severe facial deformity). Anesthesia, nursing, and biomedical professionals accompany many of the surgical teams. The requests for more Por Cristo teams in both primary and acute care continue to grow.

Por Cristo's philosophy emphasizes the sharing of medical knowledge among health care professionals. 'Give a person a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a person to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." While in Latin America, Por Cristo doctors, nurses, and therapists, diagnose and treat patients along side their Ecuadorean colleagues. Por Cristo simultaneously treats children and provides professional training so that Ecuadorean medical professionals are able to provide quality treatment after Por Cristo teams return home. It is this philosophy which has enabled Por Cristo to multiply the impact of its direct efforts. Ecuadorean medical professionals, adopting the Por Cristo philosophy are now leaching other medical professionals throughout Ecuador.

Por Cristo, concentrating on creating centers of health care excellence, completed the construction of a Nutrition Center in November of 1996. The center, built on the Isla Trinilaria, a marginated area in the poorest section of Ecuador, is staffed on a full-time basis by Ecuadorean medical professionals. Since the inception of this project in 1994, not a single identified child has died of malnutrition.

- Por Cristo remains the beginning of a tremendous collaborative effort between North American and Latin American health care professionals.

" More than 30,000 people have received attention from Por Cristo medical volunteers.
" Over 500 medical volunteers have traveled to Ecuador as part of Por Cristo projects and they have provided more than $6 million in donated professional services and donated medical supplies.
" There is a new neonatal care unit in the third largest maternity hospital in the world.
" A pediatric intensive care unit has significantly lowered the death rate at a children's hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
" A pediatric burn unit provides hope for severely burned children in a country where burns are all too common and hope all too scarce.
" A Nutrition Center on the Isla Tnnitaria, staffed by five full-time Ecuadorean medical professionals, educates and cares for mothers and children. Since the project's inception in 1994, not a single identified child has died of malnutrition.
" Por Cristo continues to improve medical knowledge in the areas of Burn Care, Cardiac Care, Craniofacial Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Primary Care and Nutrition.
" Por Cristo leverages each dollar donated to provide over two dollars worth of donated medical services, supplies and equipment.