By Jim and Lois Ens
Hope. In Portuguese, “esperanca.” A hope that has saved thousands of lives. The legacy of Father Luke Tupper, a Franciscan priest and physician, has grown mightily in 40 years. And because of its faithful contributions, St. Thomas can rightly celebrate its part in that legacy. Most parishioners know the humble beginnings of this life-saving organization. Suffering mothers in remote villages along the Amazon River watched their little ones die because there was no one to give them inoculations costing less than ten cents.
A one-man team arrived in 1970 to undertake the massive and dangerous challenge of reaching these children. Others later joined the crusade. A flat-bottomed ferryboat was turned into a hospital in order to travel where no hospital existed. Now it has branched into a multi-national health organization serving the sick and poor in six different countries.
Originally based in Brazil, Esperanca now has outreaches in Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, Mozambique, and Liberia, Africa. Volunteer surgeons, dentists, and other health-care professionals make regular trips to these countries often seeing over 100 patients per day. Public health and safety clinics are also given to the villagers, often with a focus on child survival strategies. Esperanca has also developed programs to train resident health workers and other personnel in order to provide ongoing care and instruction. Thus, Esperanca is able to multiply the benefit of its activities and deliver culturally appropriate services to families and communities. Esperanca is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. 90% of all monies donated to the organization go directly to medical services and supplies, with only 10% used for overhead.
Esperança is a global nonprofit organization providing hope for families in the poorest communities of the world through sustainable disease prevention, education and treatment. As part of our parish tithe, Saint Thomas regularly contributes and supports the organization’s mission of bringing hope, providing improved health practices and transforming the poorest communities of the world. The parish tithe also supports an ambassador trip with Esperanca every other year.
Check out the 2015 Saint Thomas/Esperanca Mission Trip video.
Saint Thomas will host a Faith Ambassador trip to Nicaragua during Spring Break 2017. For more information, call Lori Fedewa, Christian Service Director, at 459-4662 or email Lori.