On days when he does not have dialysis, Raul often stops by to see his compañera. He always greets us with a warm handshake and asks if his companera is around before slowly making his way up the stairs. A year ago, he was concerned that he would not be able to get treatment for his many medical needs, since he had not received his new medical card after he moved to a new address. His companera accompanied him to the Department of Human Services, where a social worker assured him that he would receive his medical card soon and would be able to receive care. His compañera has continued to communicate with hospital social workers on his behalf to help ensure he is receiving all the treatment he needs.
Raul recently faced a medical and financial crisis when he was in an accident and had knee surgery. He could not afford to pay the full cost of his medical care, since he has a very low income and is only able to pay his rent by doing yardwork for his landlord. His companera helped connect him with medical hardship financial assistance from the city of Chicago and from the hospital where he had the surgery. She has helped him make a follow-up appointment to check on his knee and will continue to walk him in his journey of healing.
With no family members living nearby, Raul feels grateful for the support and friendship of his companera. His story demonstrates that companeras are not always able to help clients fix their problems. Raul and his companera cannot heal his kidneys or make him a young, healthy man again. Rather, their role is to walk along clients on their journeys, in their struggles and joys, and advocate for them as they seek support. Raul and his compañera are enjoying their walk together.