The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus have been working with the poor and marginalized in Guatemala since 1968. Responding to the need to promote and strengthen families, Missionary Sisters have founded two clinics which provide medical, dental, and nutritional services to the most impoverished populations in Guatemala. Dispensary “Mother Cabrini” located in Barcena, Guatemala supports migrants, the elderly, the promotion of women, and child development through seven peripheral programs designed to foster health and wellness in the community.
Bárcena is a semi-rural community that belongs to the municipality of Villa Nueva, Guatemala. It sits southwest of Valle de Las Vacas, approximately 19 kilometers from the center of the capital city.
The people of Bárcena have traditionally been devoted to the cultivation of corn, beans, onion, tomatoes, flowers, and cucumbers. Pests and climate change have altered the way of cultivation and increased costs, causing many to sell their land and engage in other activities. Remaining farm land is predominantly used to feed the family cultivating the land or to be sold in the markets. The increased cost and difficulty involved in farming, combined with the lack of available professional studies, has forced many young people to find work in factories or in the service sector. A decline in the traditional economy coupled with lack of meaningful employment for young people has created a situation where health care is inaccessible. Public clinics and hospitals cannot cope with increased demand and private services are too costly for the poor to utilize. The Bárcena clinic run by Missionary Sisters fills this need for professional quality care.
All services provided at the clinic are subsidized so they can be affordable to the target population. A major challenge to service is the maintenance of properly equipped clinics. Costs of medicine are approximately 30% cheaper than commercial pharmacies in the area.