Today I broke a couple of my own rules and, as a result, may have had my "Guatemala moment".
I traveled today with Ishmael, Randy, Sister Pam, Peter and Gracie to the village of Purushila to visit an amazing school for 4, 5 and 6 year olds. I traveled there over gravel roads on the back of an open pick-up (first broken rule). I could never adequately describe what I saw, but hopefully can share what I felt. The teachers were dedicated and welcomed us not only to their school, but also to their home where they shared fresh fruit from the trees and a peek at the new puppies just opening their eyes. Although the school was clean and well maintained in a very simple way, you only needed to turn around and look across the street to see examples of the extreme poverty and sense of hopelessness. Meeting these teachers and the small children with them gave me a sense of hope for this community.
After leaving the school we traveled a short distance to the home of the "health promoter", a local woman who has committed to, among other things, feeding the poorest children and pregnant women of the community twice weekly a healthy meal consisting primarily of the Kids Against Hunger food supplied by SewHope. They invited us to join them with a plate of rice (second broken rule...don't eat local food).
So my "Guatemala moment" today was what Anne mentioned to us this morning...the thing that strikes you and makes you want to know more about these people and to learn more about how we can be a positive influence. It's also the moment you realize that you will likely be coming back.
Tomorrow I have my first day seeing patients in the general medicine clinic. I think there will be more "Guatemala moments".
Written by Annette Collier, MD. Annette is a physician at Hospice of Northwest Ohio. Annette visited the Peten with SewHope for a week in October 2012.
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012