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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Health fair breaks boundaries in Gainesville: Patients from Brazil and Haiti join the Hispanic community

Organizations seek to expand their services to more nationalities in future editions

“Trabajando Juntos” volunteers cooking during the free health fair on Saturday, May 18, 2024.
“Trabajando Juntos” volunteers cooking during the free health fair on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

On May 18, the organization Children Beyond Our Borders (CBOB), in collaboration with Equal Access Clinic (EAC), held its well-known free health fair in Gainesville, this time extending its reach beyond the Latino community to serve Brazilian and Haitian patients.

The fair, which took place at Parkview Baptist Church, offered a variety of medical services and attracted hundreds of participants. Maria Eugenia Zelaya, the executive director of CBOB, said  the integration of more nationalities into the event was made possible with the help of the community.

"There was an opportunity, the flyers were made and they decided to come and participate," Zelaya said. 

Additionally, the event featured the participation of a Haitian congregation along with their pastor.

From 8 a.m. to noon, attendees could access pediatric consultations, gynecological exams, colon cancer screenings and general check-ups for diabetes, blood pressure, anemia and cholesterol. Free mammograms were also offered to women between 40 and 74 years old.

Alex Zorrilla, the clinic coordinator for CBOB and EAC, highlighted the collaboration between the two organizations, noting their hard work ensures the clinic runs smoothly.

"Being able to do this not only with people from Latin America but also with people from Haiti, Brazil and other countries that visit us makes us proud because we are helping our community,” Zorrilla said.

Coro Borjas, a volunteer from "Trabajando Juntos," another organization associated with the fair, emphasized the importance of the organization in the community. 

Borjas, who is also the administrator of the WhatsApp group "Trabajando Juntos GNV," keeps participants informed about future activities in the city.

"It is a wonderful foundation that helps the community in various ways, not just with the health fair but with English classes, programs for children and many other activities," she said.

Borjas, who has been helping at these events for three years, was in charge of preparing meals like chicken and rice and zucchini lasagna, which were made possible with the great help of the community and local businesses, she said.

Jamie Hensley, the assistant director for cancer screening and care navigation at the UF Health Cancer Center, described the events as "a series of tiny miracles."

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"It’s community, it’s promotion of health and it’s collaboration," Hensley said.

The event exceeded the organizers’ expectations, Zelaya said, they took care of approximately 80 patients in only six hours.

Chelymay Yance de Rosales, a patient who attended due to a foot injury, expressed her gratitude for the help from the fair.

"They gave me the attention I needed, prescribed medications, and scheduled an appointment for an X-ray. For me, the care was very complete," she said.

Yance de Rosales, who has been in the United States for three years, learned about the event through promoters in Hispanic groups in the city like Borjas and Zelaya. She also valued cultural integration at the fair.

"In unity, there is strength. The more of us there are, the better," she said.

CBOB health fairs are held every three months, with the next one scheduled for August, coinciding with the start of the school year and the distribution of backpacks with supplies for children.

Contact Jose Carmona at  j.carmonasoto@ufl.edu. Follow him on “X” @JD_CarmonaS.

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Jose Carmona

Jose Carmona is a third-year journalism major and a reporter and translator for El Caimán. Besides his role, he loves to hang out with his friends, watch any kind of sports and play video games with his cat on his lap.


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