« The Gospel is all about spreading God’s love, in the name of Jesus, to all creatures great and small, human or unhuman. Glory be to God.»
Such is the statement of faith of Beryl Baker, this little woman with a huge heart.
An English-trained nurse, Beryl has spent nearly 40 years as the only hope for medical treatment for around 18000 indigenous people of the Chaco region of Paraguay.
The scrubland Chaco covers over half the total area of Paraguay and its semi-arid climate varies from severe droughts to even more severe floods, cold winters and torrid summers. This area lacks all basic infrastructure and modern amenities, and is bisected by the Trans-Chaco highway. Beryl has to travel 300 kilometres down this pot-holed road to reach Asunción, the capital, for supplies of medication or if she needs to take patients to hospital.
In Asunción she visits the Anglican Cathedral and it was there that she met George Caspescha, a former member of Neuchâtel Church, who encouraged us to support Beryl’s work. Since then we have been glad to be able to help with the provision of medication, operations and car repairs. Further strenghtening Beryl’s connection with Neuchâtel, Beryl attended sunday school many years ago with our friend and late pastor Rev. Roy Farrar.
Based on a ranch, over the years Beryl has been able to build a brick dispensary, receiving patients who have walked from miles around, as well as visiting all the outlying regions herself, spreading the good news of the Gospel to all she meets.
As well as actively supporting the health of the vast community through clinics on the ranch, Beryl also invest her time in training local health promoters who work with her at the ranch and outlying areas. Training and education is a vital part of Beryls work to care for not only acute health needs but also to improve the general health of the population. Soucing basic medication and supplies such as antibiotics and analgesics is problematic due to geography and poor national infrastructure. Other challenges include climate and maintaining essential resources such as vehicles.
Beryl is active in supporting the local Church at Rio Verde and leading services there. Her caring also extends to the vast amount of animals who surround her hut and share her life.
If you would like to donate to support the work of Beryl Baker in Paraquay, please contact us. Alternatively you can deposit directly into the Neuchatel English Church bank account and email us with instructions:
UBS, Place Pury, Neuchâtel.
- Account number: F28003141
- Sort Code: 0290
- IBAN: CH25 0029 0290 F28003141
News from our friend Beryl in Paraguay
You will find the latest news from Beryl below.
Older updates are archived and linked below.
The weather is cooler in the morning but the afternoon sun is very fierce. No rain is forecast and the Chaco drought is very serious.
The lady that I brought to town died last night. Her partner had taken her to a doctor where she was told she needed a lot of tests. She couldn.t walk due to an epidural anaesthetic she was given last December when she had a C section. She also had a gallstone . Yesterday she seemed ok but died at 10pm. As yet I don.t know what the cause of death was.
I will be going back to the Chaco Tuesday DV and one of the tractor drivers will be travelling with me as there are no long distance buses. His wife Dora and the 3 children will have to remain at their home as nobody is allowed to transport children under 10 years of age.
Today I saw Sharon who is doing ok and this afternoon I went with Sylvia in a car to look for her neighbours lost dog that was dognapped and then dumped. We didn.t find her and Sylvia is very distressed.
Tomorrow the President will announce if any of the quarantine regulations can be less rigid. The only new cases that have been diagnosed are people who have come into Paraguay from Brazil and all of these are confined to hostels.
My sister in law sent me news of one of my great nephews who is a doctor at the Addenbrook’s hospital in Cambridge as he has invented a touch pad so that patients on respirators can communicate how they feel to doctors and nurses and also express their emotions and worries.
The Lord bless you
Lots of love and prayers
Beryl was able to send me an email on 14.5.2020 to let me know she was in Asuncion and on wifi. Unfamiliar as I am with using What’s App to make phone calls I was able to get through and we had a long phone call
Paraguay has been in lock down like us since the end of March and Beryl was unable to leave the ranch in the Chaco. She was able about two weeks age to travel a shorter distance to Lomo Plata where she was able to pick up medical supplies from the retired Doctor Trudy who normally helps Beryl with medical trips to the Indian villages.
The villages are shut down and only the men who have motor bikes can travel to Beryl’s clinic on the ranch.
Beryl told me she can see patients there and provide medicines for blood pressure, diabetes and epilepsy.
I think she was legally able to visit the capital Asuncion because she brought down with her a patient who needed to go to the hospital.
The difficulty that Beryl had was that her 20 year old vehicle had old spark plugs that no longer started the vehicle. A car mechanic on the ranch called Tito was able to start the engine but Beryl had to drive to Asuncion by keeping the engine going for the whole journey.
Paraguay has been able to stop the Covid 19 virus spreading and have only had 10 deaths. The businesses in Asuncion are all close apart from Food shops and chemists and Beryl is hoping that today Saturday 16th May 2020 a friend who is a car mechanic will able to put new plugs into the vehicle and get it going normally. The same safe guards for health are being used In Paraguay like facemasks and social distancing but they are also using disinfectants to keep shoes clean and entrances to buildings safe.
Beryl has been able to get help for the villagers in the Chaco thanks to the help of a man called John Holland who created a charitable Christian organisation in Paraguay a number of years ago. This man has been unable to leave Paraguay since the lock down and is living I with other expatriates in a hotel in a hotel in Asuncion and he organised food to be sent up to the Chaco where Beryl with the help of one of her health promotors get food distributors in Sombero Piri. Beryl has a twoway radio which helps her to contact the health promotors that she works with in the villages.
There is a church office for St Andrews Church in Asuncion but like all our offices is closed but Beryl is in touch with Miriam who works from home at present. Fortunately she has been able speak to the Ranch owner Rhett Butler by phone and he will be able to help Beryl settle all her outstanding accounts. Beryl at present can use her ATM in Asuncion but she is unable to do any online banking as she can only access her account by landline phone calls to the UK as the bank does not seem to accept what’s app calls from Beryl’s IPhone for security reasons.
Despite all of these difficulties Beryl sounded very cheerful and full of faith for her safety and wellbeing. The government were doing their best to help those unable to work with cash pay outs and her house and Jordy the young man who is looking after house was supported by Sharon the 80 year old American Christian friend who has always supported Beryl in her work for many years. This was because Beryl could not get to town for over two months.
Now we know that life for Beryl has had all the extra difficulties of the virus but she has been well supported by al the prayers that have been offered for her and she has been very certain of God’s presence during this difficult time for everyone.
I think Beryl will hope to drive back to the Chaco next week so continue to keep her in your prayers for that journey.
Beryl update: 06/05/2020
Beryl update: 19/03/2020
Beryl update: approx 01/2020
Further updates and information can be found in our church magazines here