People of Partners In Health

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No one should be defined by a diagnosis. There is always more to the story.

Posted on May 23, 2023

Leonardo Joaquín Ramos Coutiño in Chiapas, Mexico. (Photo by Francisco Terán / Partners In Health)

People of PIH is a new series highlighting people whose lives have intersected with Partners In Health in some way, whether as patients, staff, or community members, in the 11 countries where PIH works around the world.

From the rural, mountainous Sierra Madre region of Chiapas, Mexico, to the vibrant, bustling city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, people whose lives cross paths with PIH come from a wide range of communities, all of them dynamic, complex, and rich with history and culture.

This series aims to offer a glimpse into people’s lives and experiences—in health care and outside of it. Because no one should be defined by their diagnosis or the darkest moments of their life. There is always more to the story.

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Leonardo Joaquín Ramos Coutiño | Chiapas, Mexico

Leonardo Joaquín Ramos Coutiño and his wife, Leonarda Ramírez Arcos. (Photo by Francisco Terán / Partners In Health)

“I have a little piece of land and some pigs. My dream was to have more land, to make a big farm. That is how I support my family. But since this happened to me, I didn’t tend it… But that was my goal, to have more land, develop a big farm. I said, ‘if God blesses me, if God gives me the opportunity to have more or do more, I will buy a larger piece of land and I’m going to make my farm.’ Because I have visited other farms. I love animals. That was my goal, to develop a large farm and to live off of my animals.”

For years, Leonardo Joaquín Ramos Coutiño has dreamed of having a large farm. Coutiño, 58, currently has a small farm with pigs and chickens in Jaltenango, a city in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. But that dream was put on hold when he was diagnosed with COVID-19. As he battled the virus, someone else had to watch his animals; some of them passed away. Another illness further complicated his efforts to care for the animals. But Coutiño remains determined. He has since recovered after accessing medical care from Compañeros En Salud, as Partners In Health is known in Mexico. And he still dreams of having a farm one day.

Sinar Caleb Castro Reyes | Chiapas, Mexico

Marta Estela Castro Reyes and her son, Sinar Caleb. (Photo by Francisco Terán / Partners In Health)

“He likes the rivers and parks [in Jaltenango]. He loves to go out and explore with his family. He loves to go to the park, play games, and go on the swings. At home, he loves to swing in the hammock all day long. He loves to listen to the song ‘Lola the Cow’…He [also] loves his birthday. We invite children. We make sweet treats, piñatas, cake. He loves his birthday.”

For Marta Estela Castro Reyes, 27, some of her favorite days with her 5-year-old son Sinar are spent outdoors, enjoying the parks and playgrounds near the family’s home in Jaltenango, a city in the rural highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Sinar loves swing sets, hammocks, and the family’s small inflatable pool—a welcome relief on Jaltenango’s hottest days, which can top 90° F. And the song he is most likely listening to while relaxing? “La Vaca Lola,” Reyes says. Reyes first connected with Compañeros En Salud, as Partners In Health is known in Mexico, for medical care for Sinar, who lives with multiple sclerosis and autism.

Originally published on pih.org

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