Hope for the Hopeless in Argentina
Argentina is a beautiful country, rich in tradition and extremely hospitable to guests from foreign lands.
But the Argentina so many knew and loved to visit in years past shows a different face these days. The country is in an economic crisis that has drastically altered its social situation and disrupted the lives of millions.
Two large social sectors, which constitute more than 43 percent of the total population, have been profoundly affected: people living in poverty and a majority of the middle class, which now has no access to public health services or education.
The situation has been complicated further by floods that have ravished provinces and created, in the words of one official, “the worst [conditions] since the foundation of the town of Santa Fe in 1573.” An estimated sixty thousand people in central Argentina have been forced to evacuate their homes.
As was true when severe famine fell on the people of the Middle East during the time of Joseph, most people did not see it coming and, as a result, were totally unprepared. But the Lord knew it was on the way and had Joseph in place in ancient Egypt to prepare the nation and minister life to those who otherwise would have been without help or hope.
A somewhat similar scenario has unfolded with Doctors Alfredo and Asunta Espinoza at The Friends of Israel Free Medical Clinic in Buenos Aires. Our new FOI medical facility was up and running when the crisis hit. Alfredo had a loyal staff that was trained and ready to step into the breach left by the breakdown of the nation’s medical and social services.
“We are so grateful to the Lord,” he wrote, “for we have been able to feel that His hand is upon us. Our medical ministry is in these days facing a tough challenge, having to deal with an increased demand for our services in all areas. As you are aware, half of the population is under the line of poverty. The peculiar thing is that this economic debacle happened very fast.”
So fast, in fact, that countless numbers of people were completely unprepared to cope with the situation. To end their despair, many have resorted to killing their loved ones and then committing suicide. Alfredo, a family practitioner, cardiologist, and kidney specialist, wrote,
In our daily work at the FOI clinic we are in these days dealing with an increased number of people who come to us, maybe as a last attempt to preserve their lives—to keep living. We sense that they want to live, but we feel the desperation in their trembling voices as they express their needs. Not enough food, no shelter, no clothing, no access to medical care. . . . Too many nos that they see as adding up to one big NO: No future.
But thanks to many of you in the Friends of Israel family, the Espinozas are there to meet the real spiritual and material needs of the men, women, and children of Argentina. Not long ago, Alfredo looked through the clinic window to see, as he wrote, “the front yard of the FOI Free Medical Clinic bustling with people preparing to distribute small packs of powdered milk among the poor, a task that has been supported by believers during the last months and has relieved the situation of some desperate families. In many cases it has prevented small children from begging in the streets and likely adding exposure to more physical vexation and damage. The front yard was like a beehive buzzing with feverish activity.”
Hearing these comments and seeing our medical team in action in the clinic, among flood victims, at the scenes of tragic accidents, or meeting needs on the streets of the cities and towns of Argentina gives us every reason to be grateful to our Lord for the privilege of having some small part in their great work.