The St. Francis Emmaus Center is part of St. Bryce Missions Love in Action programming in Costa Rica. The center provides a safe, comfortable place for Cabecar mothers, who must journey long hours on foot to have access to medical care, in the days just before and after the birth of a child or in the event of the hospitalization of a child. Additionally, the St. Francis Emmaus Center provides health education workshops and resources for Cabecar mothers.
A Story of Success, Making a Difference and Saving Lives:
In the Mission to Save Lives The St. Francis Emmuas Center Makes a Difference. In 2015 we received remarkable news and a letter from the director of medicine in Turrialba, Costa Rica that St. Bryce Missions played a major part in the reduction of infant mortality in the indigenous reserve by 50%. Letter From Regional Medical Director.
Miles from home a young Cabecar indigenous woman makes her way to the hospital on foot. She has walked many hours to catch a bus to the city and the closest local hospital. Once she arrives at the hospital, and if there are no complications she gives birth and then makes an arduous journey of several hours or days on foot to get home to one of sixty villages scattered throughout the Chirripo Reserve. No roads, medical clinics or doctors are available once she enters the reserve. What are the thoughts she is experiencing? Is she anxious about her child? What if the child gets sick? What will she do?
Because of the lack of access to medical services and harsh living conditions, the Cabecar population suffers infant and maternal mortality rates nearly 5 times higher than the rest of the Costa Rican population. Common illnesses which mean a trip to the emergency room in developed areas can quickly become life threatening in the remote mountains of the reserve. Without a place to stay during a hospitalization, many families delay seeking help until the situation is grave, or even worse, until it is too late.
St. Bryce Missions is collaborating with national medical directors, indigenous leaders, and locally trained midwives to help lower those statistics, save lives, and give moms and babies a better outlook for their future.
The St. Francis Emmaus Center is named after the great St. Francis of Assisi, known for his care of the poor and outcasts, and Emmaus, which is the famous road in the Gospel where Christ met two of his disciples after His resurrection. Although the Center’s services are offered to all in need regardless of religion, we hope the center will be a place for all who enter to find the love and care modeled by St. Francis and to encounter the living Christ present among them.
At the St. Francis Emmaus Center, we offer not only housing and sustenance for up to ten pregnant moms and newborns, but also education that can help save lives and sharply increase the quality of life for these mothers and their children.
Education is a large part of what we will offer mothers during their stay at the center. Customs and practices such as stopping nursing on the onset of diarrhea and placing infants near open fires where smoke is present add to life threatening conditions. We realize we do not have all the answers but, we can help mothers know what they can do to help their babies and in what circumstances they should seek emergency medical attention.We are developing educational workshops in the following areas:
- Prenatal Care and Nutrition
- Labor Preparation
- Postpartum and Infant Care
- Early Child Development
- Understanding Fertility and Cycles
Sabrina was the first infant to arrive at the St. Francis Emmaus Center after her birth. Two days later, she began to exhibit symptoms of Strep B infection and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance from the local clinic near the Center. Had she gone back to her village in the Reserve, she may have been too far away from the medical care. Medical care confirmed for us that accessibility to health care saved Sabrina’s life. This experience confirmed for us at St. Bryce Missions that caring for moms and babies in life-saving love in action.