Three years ago I met Cathy at our church. A nurse who has run medical missions / humanitarian aid trips into the smallest of communities in Guatemala for the past decade. Since our introduction I’ve been helping where I can, using the skills I have to help gather donations for them.
Seventeen team members with 1,700 pounds of team supplies, medications and donations arrived safe and sound on April 28th. Additional supplies included: toiletries, toddler and infant clothing, school supplies, nutrition bars, soccer jersey’s, shoes and balls. The team of varied medical staff made their way to set up clinics in Guatemala for a 10 day medical mission’s trip.
Thankfully their luggage made it through customs without issue. Not one item was missing or confiscated, which was quite the miracle in itself. When pharmacies sell Tylenol or Penicillin, one pill at a time, for the same amount as a week’s worth of groceries, these items become hot commodities.
Typically, clinics are held at churches in many of the villages they visit. They partner with a local pastor who advertises and promotes the free medical clinic. This partnership allows the pastor to both invite his congregation but also reach out to his community and helps him to build relationships.
In one village they met a family who were struggling to survive. The dad injured himself and wasn’t able to work. Mom didn’t have an education or skills she could use to earn money. They lost three children to malnutrition over a short period of time. The medical team were able to treat them at the clinic and provide them with over a month’s supply of food. They also put this family in touch with the pastor for ongoing assistance.
Notice the dirt floors, minimal electricity, and lack of circulation in this small space.
A typical set up for most of their clinics consists of; intake, triage, medical stations, hospitality and pharmacy. Each person who comes to clinic is assessed, treated and prescribed medication by certified medical staff and given vitamins; all without a cost to them. Most people in Guatemala can afford a trip to the doctor, however they cannot afford the medication prescribed.
People visiting the clinics will arrive hours before the start of the clinic to ensure they will be able to see a doctor. What you can’t tell from these pictures is that the clinic lines will go all the way down the street and wrap around the building.
Young and old will wait in these lines all day if needed and still be thankful with a smile on their face. Some parents will stand in the lineup twice if their older children are in school at the beginning of the clinic. Imagine in North America even considering standing in a line for 6 to 8 hours for a 14-day supply of vitamins for your child because they are free.
Guatemala has some of the most beautiful people in the world. Even though many of them have nothing, the joy they express with their smiles makes it easy to fall in love with these people and this country.
A huge thank you to our family at New Song Church and friends at IronKids Nutrition for their donations which helped make 2017 such a success. The kids were waiting in line for 6-7 hours to see a doctor, receive medicine, and pick out toys and clothing, etc. While they were waiting, they got to enjoy such a delicious and nutritious snack from IronKids Nutrition. More nutrition in one bar than they had in a long time.
With your support, generosity and prayer, they were able to bless 2,469 people with medical care and food. Thank you for blessing the people of Guatemala.
For 2018 we want to help even more. The Guatemala Medical Missions team was introduced to a pastor whose son has been educating the children who live and work in the garbage dump. Each morning he goes to the dump to walk the kids to school. He began with 20 kids and has grown to 120 kids. We would like to make sure those kids get breakfast each morning before school. Getting an education for this next generation is very important, the stats say 70% of Guatemalans are uneducated. The jobs they can get include extremely hard and long days in coffee plantations, fields, or collecting plastics in the garbage dump.
While we want to continue to send supplies, (this year we sent 10,000 vitamins and 1,200 nutrition bars from IronKids Nutrition) we want to do something that lasts longer than a few weeks after the team leaves. We discovered that for $10 we could feed an entire family for a month! It would buy them the basics they need to thrive.
WANT TO HELP?
If you would like to help, please send me an email. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put in the subject line Guatemala Medical 2018. Donations can be made via our church, 100% of the proceeds will go towards this project.