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For fifty years, BPD has partnered with indigenous Guatemalans to strengthen communities and enhance the health and well-being of families.  Please read on to learn more about the profound and lasting legacy of Dr. Carroll Behrhorst in Guatemala:

1962: Dr. Carroll Behrhorst founds a vitally needed medical program in the department of Chimaltenango Guatemala for the Kaqchikels, descendants of the ancient Mayan civilization. It will grow into a creative center for health and development activities, pioneering an array of village-based interventions.

1967: The Behrhorst Clinic Foundation, Inc. incorporates in the U.S. to provide financial support for health and development projects in Guatemala inspired by Dr. Behrhorst's vision.

1976: Chimaltenango is the epicenter of a devastating earthquake which destroys half of the Clinic infrastructure.  The quake-proof "hospitalito" served as a center of emergency care for hundreds of people.

1976: Behrhorst's Chimaltenango program is cited by the World Health Organization as one of ten models worldwide, for effective work among the rural poor.

1980: Open war between the army and various leftist guerrilla factions fighting for power begins. Behrhorst maintains neutrality so to continue to provide basic health care.  Even so, more than a dozen Behrhorst-trained health promoters are killed. The violence disrupts health care work and health conditions worsen. Guatemala suffers as a country of "widows and orphans."

1980: Guatemalan leadership and ownership of the Chimaltenango program assured through the incorporation of the "Carroll Behrhorst" Guatemalan Development Foundation.

1983, 84, 85: Gunmen kill a Guatemalan doctor working at Behrhorst's clinic; the director of the loan program "is disappeared." Health workers are singled out for repression and about one-third of the staff of the clinic are killed. Dr. Carroll Behrhorst is the recipient of death threats and removes his family from the country briefly after a brutal episode affecting relatives of his wife, Alicia. Behrhorst will soon return to continue his work.

1986: First Behrhorst Study Tour travels to Guatemala to visit rural villages, meet Behrhorst leaders, and enjoy Mayan culture.

1990: Dr. Behrhorst dies of natural causes in May while working at the clinic.

1992: A NEW DAWN IN GUATEMALA: TOWARD A WORLDWIDE HEALTH VISION, edited by Richard Luecke, is published, documenting the Behrhorst story and its impact around the world.

1995: As the "Carroll Behrhorst" Guatemalan Development Foundation approaches its goal of becoming a self-sustaining program, the U.S.-based Behrhorst Clinic Foundation, Inc. becomes Behrhorst Partners for Development, expanding its mission to support many important Guatemalan programs.

2001: Behrhorst Partners for Development launches a rural health program to decrease child and maternal mortality in villages in the municipalities of San Martin Jilotepeque and Patzun. Working with communities, local government and other non-profit organizations, BPD addresses the root causes of infant and maternal mortality, gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses.

2012:  Behrhorst Partners for Development adopts a new strategic focus and plan.  It commits to applying its low-cost, well-tested health interventions to one overarching goal:  the significant reduction of chronic childhood malnutrition in its partner villages.
 About Dr. Carroll Behrhorst 
(photo by Ulli Steltzer)
"The point of (our work) is to seek measures that create and activate a community, rather than leave it passive and waiting. Real change requires patience and commitment."

Dr. Carroll Behrhorst graduated from Washington University Medical School. After private practice in the United States, he went to Guatemala where he established a many faceted medical program to serve the rural Kaqchikel Indians of the Guatemala Highlands.

In 1962, Dr. Behrhorst founded the Behrhorst Clinic and Hospital, a health and development center, in Chimaltenango. The Clinic also served as the headquarters and training school for a comprehensive community health care program that reached tens of thousands of Kaqchikel Indians. Dr. Behrhorst's approach combining health and community development was selected in 1974 by the World Health Organization as a model for all developing countries. The program's concept of helping people on their own terms has proved its worth for decades.

Halfdan Mahler, Director General Emeritus of the World Health Organization wrote the following: "Carroll Behrhorst was a healer of many extreme schisms: between the science of medicine and the art of medicine; between medicine and health; between professionals and people; between people's dependency and people's self-reliance; between passive community participation and active community involvement; between science and faith; between sympathy and empathy, and many others." This book is now out of print with no plans to republish. Click here to read a few chapters.

Carroll Behrhorst died in Chimaltenango in May 1990 and was carried on the shoulders of the Kaqchikel to a long-chosen burial site in Chimazat, the birthplace of his wife, Alicia Nicolas de Behrhorst. 
(photo by Ulli Steltzer)
"Health has many facets--economic, social, political and cultural--which differ from community to community. Any of these may surface when an understanding of a health problem is being considered."

"It is less than adequate to depend on outreach programs and service schemes if their guiding policy is not an empowering process. This means making use of physical, economic, social, political and cultural capacities in addressing problems."

"Great allotments of time, paper, food and jet fuel have been expended in development efforts, often with little lasting effect. Clean water and malaria control may help diminish disease but do not in themselves furnish the tools and procedures for building a health promoting society. Genuine development requires creative, participatory processes that encourage self-reliance and a balanced sharing of available resources. Again, the fundamental goal is empowering the poor."

"Progress takes time. Programs formulated by those seeking quick, measurable results seldom live up to expectations. Real change requires patience and commitment."

Click here to read an account by William Kovarik, Ph.D who visited the Behrhorst Clinic in 1977.
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