Today we all started at the clinic in Santa Ana and then split into three groups as the day progressed. It was an incredible day!
Orfe, Pat and Dave Mallory, Coral, Rudy, Gladys and Ginny spent the entire day at the clinic in Santa Ana. Business there was booming all day long! Before leaving with another group, Dr. John Lane and Dr. Gary Collins saw several patients with special needs including some who attended the last clinic.
Dennis Daniels, Ed Matus and Hanssel worked at the Birthing Center in El Chal. The 14 year old boy who has been working on the stucco on the building showed both of these men how to do this job. Then he stood back and watched them in action and gave advice. Dennis and Ed loved it! Rain didn't stop the work. The rain started, a tarp went up and the work continued.
The remaining members of the team, Sr. Pam, McKenzie, Dr. John Lane, Dr. Gary Collins and Ismael made house calls. It was clear that we were visiting the poorest of the poor. These were persons with disabling diseases who had few resources. In most cases, the doctors could not cure the illness, but were able to assess pain, give medications, and offer better means to enable independence. Most of all, we brought along loving care and the message that they are loved by a good God. Dr. John Lane, who has done mission work in the Philippines, commented that he felt that the people here in the Peten were more poor in that he found greater depression in the people.
Our firwst stops were to homes in El Chal. Here a 4 month old boy has feet that are twisting inward. If not corrected, it is possible that we would be a "toe walker". Dr. John Lane taught the family how to do daily therapy on the child's feet and assisted them as they practiced the movements. Dr. John was also able to make some casts that could be put on at night time. Our hope is that by the time the little fellow walks, his feet will naturally correct themselves.
Still in El Chal and with Cataliina, we climbed a bit of a hill in the slick mud to meet a woman who seems to have suffered a stroke or seizure leaving her right side damaged. You cannot see it in the following pictures, but her right hand hangs down and she drags her right foot while walking. Though the damage is permanent, Dr. John Lane fitted her with a foot brace that will give her a bit more stabiility and prevent further damage to her foot. She is the grandmother of the baby on her lap. Her daughter went off with a man and left the baby behind. In the picture with Catalina, you will see a sheet of metal that semi-covers a deep open well, the water source, which is a concern with a toddler. The woman told us that with the new government in power, she was eliminated from the meager monies she had received. Hopefully, our visit and prayer with her told her that someone cares.
The woman above told us about the family below. Catalina was able to find the home and we visited. Three of the many children have some form of Cerebral Palsy. Jose in the wheelchair has the most severe degeneration. Myrna in the orange sweater has a right side that is in some stage of paralysis. Their sister has the form of the disease that leaves the foot disfigured. Again, the doctors could not heal their diseases. We believe it is God's blessing that none of the three experience crdonic pain. Jose asked if we might be able to do something with his well-worn wheelchair. We hope to be able to follow through on this request. At the other side of the porch is the family of another brother. He looks much older than his years and suffers from back problems. His family here is removing the kernels from corn to sell in the market. Corn is in the hammock, the man beats the corn with a stick. The kernels fall to the floor and are scooped up and sifted through a screen. We all loved the members of this family and reminded them that God loved them, too.
This family told us that the man next door also needed help, so we went to his house. He seemed to have a hip and leg that would lock, as he described it, when the moon was full. It was clear that he was very stiff on one side while walking. Dr. John was able to give some pain medication. Dr. Gary served as an assistant and consultant to Dr. John as we visited these persons. Ismael was the faithful translator and prayer leader.
Next we visited the village of Juleque, a considerable distance from El Chal. There we met Jose and his mother. They met us half way at the home of another woman. The last team also visited with Jose, so we were meeting friends. Dr. Gary as well as Dr. Dave Mallory have worked with Jose on previous visits as well. Jose is 10 and has a twin sister who is standing next to him in the pink shirt in one of the pictures below. Jose has a good set of braces that serve him very well. Unfortunately, they are now three years old, and Jose is growing Dr. Lane was able to take measurements of the feet and was able to make casts of both feet in order to provide a
We met many animal friends along the way. Two are pictured below. This moth crawled onto Hanssel's shoe. There were five healthy cows on the road when we tried to leave Jose's house. Their faces clearly stated: " Like, you guys weren't planning on leavin', we're ya"?"
The day was one of the unbelievable days. I know that the people that we met along the way were the conversations around our dinner and faith sharing groups this evening.
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012