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Dedicated to Spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Miskito Indians of Nicaragua

The Need

Tasba Raya Adventist Clinic seeks to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the Miskito Indians:
1.) Medical
2.) Health and Nutrition
3.) Spiritual


The Medical Need
Life expectancy is quite low for the average Miskito Indian. People in their forties consider themselves too old to get out of the hut and travel around, and indeed their level of health prevents them from doing so.

 

The Medical NeedThere are scant few trained health workers in Tasba Raya region, and even the hospital 75 miles away in Puerto Cabezas is poor. It is dirty, with not even screens to keep out the flies. Patients often die from deadly infections tranmitted to them in the hospital.

A pig dining on garbageThe villagers do not suffer as much from malaria and snake bites as could be expected in a tropical climate. Instead, they are afflicted with parasites and with malnutrition. The obvious reason for the many parasites is the lack of hygiene. Having always lived in a thinly populated area, the villagers simply deal with excrement the same way animals do. The villagers don't like latrines because they stink and are full of mosquitoes. Also, pigs, goats, and cows wander free, and their excrement contaminates the rainwater flowing into the creeks.

Child bathing in the riverThe situation is even worse because the villagers do not use well water. They use the contaminated creek water to bathe, wash clothing and dishes, and worst of all, to drink. Consequently, providing and promoting the use of clean water is a top priority for Tasba Raya Adventist Clinic. The most severely affected by the lack of hygiene are the toddlers who are just being weaned. While in their mothers' arms, infants are to a great degree protected from parasites, and breastfeeding supports their immune systems. When they are weaned and start walking, however, their mortality rate skyrockets as they are suddenly exposed to a world of pathogens and parasites. Contaminated mud gets squished between their bare toes, and they play in the dirty creeks.



The Health and Nutrition NeedChild eating a rat
Much can be done to lower the infant mortality rate, but with many women having children every year, the problem of how to feed them all would quickly arise. Thus there is a need for birth control education, agricultural development, and nutrition education.

Women grating riceBeing well below the poverty level, the villagers sell all of their crops soon after they are harvested. They then subsist on rice, beans, and bananas until the next harvest. Such a diet provides a low level of nutrition. The climate is ideal for a growing a broad variety of foods, including corn, soybeans, peanuts, cucumbers, tomatoes, greens, and okra. The villagers do not realize, however, the importance of a varied and balanced diet, so they grow and eat only a few staples.

Added to the health problems resulting from poor hygiene and nutrition is the gradually increasing use of drugs and alcohol. Before the 1970's, the Indians rarely drank; all they had was "moonshine" from corn or pineapples. Now the depressing condition of the people is compounded by liquor. Indians employed by drug traffickers also have free access to drugs, which wreak havoc on their already strained immune systems.



The Spiritual NeedYoung man with his Miskito Bible
While Tasba Raya Adventist Clinic is actively meeting the immediate medical needs of the Miskito people, educating them and sharing Christianity with them will have a much more lasting impact. Supplies of pills are quickly exhausted, New church buildingbut the gospel gives hope and a reason to strive for a better lifestyle.

The majority of the Indians are Moravians. The Moravians are very strict, with daily services at 6 a.m., and women with switches to keep the children in line. Also some of the villagers are Catholics or Seventh-day Adventists, and many are involved in witchcraft, superstition, and even devil worship.

The Indians make beautiful Christians, and this is what they truly need. Christianity helps everything else we teach them fall into place, and brings true balance to their lives.



Nicaragua Links
Note: TRAC does not necessarily endorse any of the various opinions presented in these web sites.

* The Miskito Nation (in Spanish), or translated
* The Miskito Indians, described by the explorer William Dampier in 1681
* Nicaragua - A Country Study from the Library of Congress