Trust. What is trust? I suppose we all have our own definition built on past experiences. Most would say trust is earned and then we proceed to have some sort of checklist that must be completed in order to bestow our trust upon another. Personally, my view of trust is some sort of equilibrium between positive actions building trust countered with negative actions breaking trust down; much like trying to build a house by placing bricks in the middle of a storm that keeps tearing them down.
A woman of 39 comes in for a pap smear. Although physically healthy appearing, she struggles to climb on to the table, breaths a lttle fast, weakly attempts a smile. She doesn't say much.
I put out my hand to greet her and realize that her little hand is burning up. I take her temperature which is almost 103. she never even mentioned she was sick - just here for a pap smear.
"Are you sick?"
"Yes, for the last month"
"Have you seen a doctor?"
With that, she smiles and hands me 7 little pieces of paper and says "yes, I just came from there. I'm supposed to get blood work done and buy these medicines but with a laugh, she says "pero no hay pisto"(but I have no money).
I look at the little notes - doctor-type chicken scrawl; all wrtieen on scraps of torn paper. One says "hematologia". What the heck does that mean?? Just do some random blood work????? Another says "urologia"! What's that? Check everything in the urine?
And then the meds are the best of all! The newest and most expensive brand of very broad specturm antibiotics - I imagine the drug rep just brought some gifts to the doctors at the clinic to convince them to write for these - yes, even in this desperate little country, the drug reps convince the docs to write for meds that could be replaced equally effectively with drugs that cost pennies. Did you know that the World Health Organization actually has a very reliable list of apporpriate meds for people in poor countries that work just as well as the latest and greatest! And actually, why don't we use them in our own country??? OOPS...better get off my current band wagon and get back to the story.
Another prescription is to cover the latest flu epidemic even though it's not flu season and her symptoms suggest nothing of the kind. So for the equivalent of about 3 months ssalary, this woman could go and get some blood workdone that would never be looked at by a doctor and some meds that cover EVERYTHING and will probably do nothing more than kill all God-fearing bacteria in her gut talking every last dime she has to her name.
I have the great fortune of having an exceptionaly intelligent, interested and compassinate med student with me on this trip named Brandon. I did my best to control myself from blaspheming the entire health care system here and we talked about jhow we should approach this. While I often feel anger at the doctors, I have to remember that when we walked into the clinic that morning, there were actually about 500 patients waiting for 3 doctors. The doctors leave at noon so whomever isn't seen just leaves. Other than a few alcohol swabs, tongue depressors, syringes, BP cuffs and stethescoopes, they don't have much in the way of supplies. So, honestly, how excited can they get about their jobs?
But somehow when we're here, we seem to have this attitude that whatever the stuation, we HAVE to find an answer. God seems to always provide; always enlighten; always give us the tools we need. SO we did a pretty decent proverbial history and physical, checked her blood sugar, BP, urine analysis and it was pretty clear that this was a garden variety kidney infection that had gone too far.
So we loaded her up with the right antibiotics and some tylenol for the road. She
teared up and accused us of being "angels from heaven"! Not bad for 20 minutes work!
And you wonder why I love working here!!!
Imagine you have 3 boys with muscular dystrophy. You see them slowly weaken; their muscles atrophy; they seem to have little energy. One is in a wheelchair; another struggles to walk. Imagine that you understand none of it; you have only been told that they have a "nervous condition". There is no medication, no physical therapy, no occupational therapy, no health providers to provide any information. You also happen to have a little girl who is bright, intelligent and has a clear capacity to be a little leader.
But let's add to the story. Imagine the dad in this family was murdered 11 years ago and there is no other family to help. The mom has NO money, "no nada". So You ask, how is it possible to survive?
This is how they survive. The mom, Santos, loves her children with such fervor that she is determined to find a way. So she collected rocks and made her own "pila" (sink"). She then begged people to allow her to was their clothes. She then signed up to work with men in the fields clearing the brush with a rusty machete. For this she makes $6 a day. She is 4' 7" tall and weighs about 70 pounds. How do I know this? We looked for her yesterday in an effort to hear her story. As we hiked up the rocky, brush-filled road, Ismael called out her name and of course she happily responded "Hola! Venga aqui!" (Hi, come here!)
She wears flip-flops, her little nails are more dirt than nail. The burning from the fire ants don't seem to bother her. She has had nothing to eat or drink all day. Now it is 6PM. She has been there for 12 hours and is getting ready to leave.
We visit her "house". She pays a small amount to rent the land and she has a few pieces of board thrown up for walls. Because she rents, she is not even allowed to dig a pit latrine so there really are no rules for hygiene - you go where the pigs go. She had a fire pit next to the house where they cooked - that improved last month when Ismael put in a good stove with a chimney. He also put in a new tin roof for her since the old one kept leaking.
I wondered what she thought when she saw us coming. When she realized we were the organization that has been giving her children food, she became a little tearful and told us they would have starved without that. They go to bed hungry so many nights.
Seems like a hopeless situation?? It's not. We have a plan. She had a small plot of land from years ago that was land-locked but Orfe was able to convince the government to get access to it. We can build her a small home with wheelchair access for about $10,000. We can build her a real "pila" so that she can have a real business for cleaning clothes. Her daughter already participates in our after-school program and she will continue to do so. That will just be the beginning. With a start like this, I believe their family can have a life that is one that God intended for them; one that we all have a right to.
They can have a home where they are safe from the elements of extreme heat and harsh rains; a home with a restroom; a home with four sturdy walls and a roof, something many of us take for granted. A home where the children's wheel chairs can actually move. A home where they can feel safe. A home that displays the love of Jesus Christ.
Our full-time missionaries here in Guatemala are ready and eager to begin building as soon as the finances are secured. Would you please prayerfully consider what your best gift would be to help a mother who is sacrificing so much just to give food, clothing and shelter to her children? Over the next several days, we will be working our hardest to secure the funds to begin this project. If you are able to donate, please click on the button below. Every penny that is raised will go to provide them a stable home. So many of you have already made our work possible. This week we have seen so much fruit from that work. We thank you from our hearts for your great generosity.