Responding to illness

High in the mountains of Bolivia, Mayra and her grandmother Valentina live in a very simple one-room adobe home.

Their community is remote and poor. Houses are built mostly of adobe bricks made of mud and straw, with palm thatch for roofs – materials that do a poor job at keeping out the bugs that cause Chagas disease.

Photo: Map International

A deadly disease spreads

Chagas disease is an infection caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is carried by an insect often called the “kissing bug” and is found mainly in Latin America.

In areas with widespread poverty, Chagas left untreated becomes a lifelong disease and can cause severe pain, debilitation, heart arrhythmias and other life-threatening medical problems.

MAP International knew well that the bug posed a danger to community members’ health and had become endemic in the area, estimating that 15-20 percent of the population would become infected, and began efforts to prevent the disease in 1993.

Showing the way

Through MAP International’s comprehensive Chagas prevention and control program, Valentina learned that she and her only granddaughter were living in conditions that put them both at high risk for Chagas disease.

She learned how to take important steps to protect their home and stop the bugs from living in their floors and walls. She started collecting rocks from around her community to cover the floor of her dirt home, a tactic advised by MAP, and employed healthier behaviors to prevent her family from being infected with Chagas.

Photo: Map International

A new outlook

Today, Valentina and Mayra are healthy and live in a clean, safe home protected from Chagas disease.

About MAP International

MAP International is a faith-based health organization that partners with people living in conditions of poverty to save lives and develop healthier families and communities. Learn more about MAP at