Franciscans Provide Funding for New Ambulance

Rebecca Doel Around the Province

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia — A new ambulance was recently presented to St. Luke’s Integral Rural Health Foundation, of which Ignatius Harding, OFM, is founder and president. The vehicle was donated, in part, by the Franciscan Missionary Union.

The side of the ambulance, a Toyota Land Cruiser, displays the HNP logo and the inscription, “Donado por: Provincla Franciscana Del Santisìmo Nombre de Jesús NY.” Dac Tran, OFM, who is currently on sabbatical to study Spanish in South America, attended the March event. He is pictured, far left, in the photo with Ignatius and two St. Luke’s employees.

In a thank you letter, Ignatius wrote: “This vehicle has ample space and equipment. It will be used for transferring patients in emergencies, as well as transporting our staff for their regular visits to the 27 communities and for the training of local leaders in integral health services respecting traditional values.”

In those 27 communities, Ignatius said, St. Luke’s Foundation serves nearly 4,000 families. “The geographical area we cover reaches from the Valley of Cochabamba at 8,963 feet above sea level to the high plateau of Palca at 12,570 feet above sea level.”

He noted: “Our work in all these rural communities accounts for the fact that our old ambulance had already passed the 300,000 kilometer mark on the odometer. Our route, linking us by road from the comfortable asphalt or rigid cement of the city, takes us on jarring roads of earth, dust and chipped stone.” Ignatius added that Toyota has the best parts service and trained mechanics in Bolivia.

About St. Luke’s
St. Luke’s, a nonprofit institution of the Archdiocese of Cochabamba for integral rural health services for excluded and marginalized rural communities, was founded in March 1990 under Ignacius’ direction.

Over the past two decades, the foundation has provided basic preventative and curative health services and advocated for the provision of systems for clean drinking water, canalization, irrigation, soil improvement and agricultural project staffing.

With support from Manos Unidas, a Spanish Catholic aid movement, infant mortality in the area has been reduced to 0 percent; no child has died from controllable diseases, malnutrition or deficiency of clean water in the past five years according to Ignatius.

The Connecticut native has been based in Bolivia since the 1980s with a seven-year hiatus in New York as co-director of Franciscans International. Because he is now officially a member of the Bolivian province is considered an alumnus of Holy Name Province. He is a personal representative of Archbishop Tito Solari.

— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.