Let me try to give you an idea of my first week here in Guatemala (I'll try to keep it short!).
I'm working with America Latina Clinics. They are a large organization that has was started by Guatemalans some 50 years ago and has 3 Christian schools with over 2000 students in 3 different locations and they have a medical ministry as well in the schools providing medical, dental, and vision care as well as traveling to other locations to offer medical, dental, and vision care within needy communities. They are also able to work with medical training and education within the communities at times. There are a few very dedicated Guatemalan medical staff that work with the clinics: Dr. Tito who is the head and director, Dr. Oswaldo, Dr. Oscar, Dentist: Victor, Jorge helps with organizing medications and donations, Rolando and Makko help with everything else from organizing teams and transportation to helping run the pharmacy and eye clinic . . . they do a ton! Oh, and I can't forget Coky, not sure if that's how to spell his name, but he helps with driving and then when at the clinic he is out working hard alongside of the team. The other day he was teaching me about driving the stick shift in the van while in the mountains, he did ask (jokingly) if I wanted to drive, but I had to turn down the offer telling him that I would but we would be off the side of the mountain!!! It's so fun to see them so dedicated to the work they are doing and never complain even when there are long days and so much to get done! They all have wonderful families and children who are behind then and very supportive and dedicated to their work as well!
I'm staying with a host family. They are great - there is the husband and wife, Makko and Alejandra and their 2 kids, Juan Pablo known as JuanPa, 4, and Lucy, 2. YaYa is the children's 91 year old great grandma who also lives with them to help take care of the kids and chores around the house. Makko works with America Latina Clinics and Alejandra works with America Latina Schools.
So, what did I do this last week?
There was a team here from Texas to help out, so they went to the school in Palencia - about a 45 min. beautiful drive to a little mountain town. The school in Palencia is the smallest and the one is most need of help. The team worked hard painting to make it more cheerful for the children. The second story of the school is still under construction, but little by little it is getting finished. They also had programs for the children, the women, the men and the teenagers - all were very well received and everybody had a great time! I helped them on Mon. and Tues., we did not do clinics these days, but I was able to help with some communication because there were very few spanish speakers with the team.
Wed. I stayed at the clinic in the school. It's basically a school nurse role as the kids come in for headaches or upset stomachs. I was by myself for a couple hours and of course a kid came in with an injured thumb. Thankfully Dr. Oscar came a few minutes later and got him sent for XRays. I also helped to get some organization to different lists of medicines that they take with them to the clinics. It was a nice day to get oriented to the clinic and some of the staff.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday were the clinic days in Palencia. They are very oraganized, 80 people can sign up for each day (although Sat. was not a full day) and the cost is 5Q, which is less than a US dollar. I actually like that they have to pay after some things I learned from working at the community health clinic that i worked at this past year. That small amount gives them a sense of ownership in their healthcare and provides them with anything they need from the clinic day. It is not a money making thing and would hardly begin to cover the cost of the clinics and medicines.
In the clinics I was the check in person, so I took their history and then passed them on to see the doctor. It was the perfect role for me as I was able to use my nursing skills in taking their history and my Spanish in communicating with them. As I finished with check in I helped some in the pharmacy trying to learn where they keep different medications - this will definitely take more time!!!
I wish that I could add photos - but I am not able to upload them right now . . . maybe later?
Today, Sunday, was a blessing as I was able to go to church with my friend Argentina. She is Guatemalan and I met her at my church in Chicago, she goes back and forth between Chicago and Guatemala and thankfully she is here in Guatemala right now. At this church I also ran into somebody that I was studying spanish with last year in Antigua - he is here permanently working in missions.
Living in the capital city is so different than any of my other experiences that I've had. Because we've been driving a lot we see a lot of different things - sometimes it is just so heartbreaking that I'm not really sure how to process it. Like the man who was stumbling around and falling in the median of a busy road, or the man who was sleeping in a turn lane on a fairly busy road . . . the houses of tin, the children playing steps away from cars flying by, etc . . . There are so many needs, and we can only do so much. There are some other challenges, like not being able to just pick up and go because traffic in the city is horrible and for me transportation is so limited, we also can't walk around much for safety reasons so i'm craving exercise! But, the blessings far out-way the challenges in everyway possible!!!
Another busy week is coming as a team arrives from Texas on Tuesday!!!