“My plan was to work in a lab so that I wouldn’t have to talk to people,” Naomi tells me. “But here I am…talking to people every day. I’m less timid now. I help facilitate community health. I’ve had to learn to talk in front of people.”
As we hike up a dusty hill on our way to the next health club Naomi shares, “A few weeks ago we helped a family with ten daughters. The dad is diabetic and only one of the daughters knew how to administer injections but she works far away and is often gone for several days at a time. Not getting injections put the dad’s health at risk, but when she missed work to go visit her dad, she was putting the family’s economic situation at risk. We were able to teach the other nine sisters how to administer injections. Now they can all help out with their dad and the situation is much less stressful for the family.”
Naomi is a Promoter for Urban Mosaic’s community health program, ProSalud. She’s 20 years old, studied to be a chemical lab technician “so that she could avoid people” as she told me, but couldn’t find work after finishing school. “I thought I’d be locked up in a lab doing science work, not on the streets with the people.” But while Namoi is quiet and a little shy, she’s quickly grown as a community leader. “I love teaching the basics of nursing and health care, like how to draw blood and administer injections. It’s great to help people in such a direct way.”
While the ProSalud team had to pivot and adjust all programs due to COVID-19, in recent months the team has started 63 health clubs. In each club, community members learn basic health care skills like how to clean ears and noses, how to clean a baby’s mouth, and how to draw blood.
The meaning of SHALOM embodies health and right relationship with God, self, and community. Through ProSalud, moms, young people, grandmas, carpenters, taxi drivers and new parents train and learn to seek the wellbeing of themselves and their families. Along the way, they get to know their neighbors, trust and kinship are born, and deeper SHALOM is created in their communities.
I find the example set by ProSalud health clubs to be an inspiring challenge. Where I come from, seeing neighbors come together and connect deeply is so rare. In a time where there is great division, may we all take inspiration from the ProSalud health clubs, finding new, expansive spaces to seek SHALOM with our own neighbors and communities.