For five decades PCI has facilitated health and development programs throughout Mexico in areas spanning maternal and child health; infectious disease (HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis); community and public health; violence prevention; and gender. One of the most rewarding aspects to our work is when we learn first hand of how our efforts have helped people live better lives. We hope you enjoy this heartwarming story below from Maria Ghaibi, a woman whose sister has greatly benefited from PCI’s work in Mexico:

I have a special place in my heart with my childhood memories and experiences that PCI provided my family and me with. This is the story of my sister’s survival as I can best remember as well as from what my mother has told me. I am sure my sister, who still lives in Tijuana, Mexico to this day, can account for much more information.

Back in the 1970s I was living just across the border in Tijuana, Mexico with my 5 siblings. I guess I was about 5 or 6 years old and my family and I where living in a small two-bedroom house. We were a family of seven with a low income and no medical insurance. My mother had heard on the radio that Project Concern International was hosting a clinic at ISSTECALI Mirador (a hospital that provides medical service for the city employees) to administer polio shots to all the children under 16 years old.

Some doctors from the Children’s Hospital in San Diego were part of the Project Concern team that was at the clinic to aid with other medical issues that may be presented in the children. My siblings and I received the polio shots and were examined by the volunteer doctors that day. On that same day my sister Natalia, who is a year and a half older than me, was starting to show an unfamiliar scar on her face.

The doctors seemed to take special interest on my sister’s case. My family was referred to a specialist at the Children’s Hospital the very next week. My parents knew that we did not have money to pay for all the doctor expenses. So the Children’s Hospital came up to an agreement that for every doctor’s visit: my family would pay any amount of money we could afford that week; most of the time our payment was any where from two dollars to ten dollars.

My sister was seven at the time and nobody in my family was expecting what happened next. Project Concern International took my sister’s case and provided all of the medical services needed to determine a diagnosis, establish a treatment and bring my sister back to health.

After many tests and several visits to both the San Diego Children’s Hospital, and Naval Hospital, it was determined that my sister was suffering from a rare form of bone cancer. We were told that there were only five cases in the world of this form of cancer and that was no known cure for it. The chances of survival for my sister were slim.

Nevertheless, the team of doctors concluded that the best option was to perform experimental treatments for my sister, some of which consisted of radiation capsules that she needed to take. My sister went through many years of treatment up until she got to the age of twenty-three, when she was declared in remission and was discharged from the doctors care.

Today she is a healthy and productive citizen who is turning fifty this next August. I was just thinking what better way of celebrating another year of life then to have the chance to give back to this organization for the blessing that she received. I know I can tell you a much longer story, but for now I will conclude with my profound thanks and my family’s eternal gratitude for the help and support we received from PCI.

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