With each trip comes new insights, new challenges, new longings for answers as to how best to tackle these huge problems in meaningful ways. This past week was one of the most bittersweet we have experienced. I still have not accepted that Flori is gone. I knew from the moment that I met her that her chances for longterm survival were negligible but so many miracles happened along the way, that I somehow believed that she would beat all the odds; that she would be with her children and with us for many years. I imagined her joining us on our "jornadas" testifying to her story. I pictured her fighting with us as we try to convince the "powers" with authority and resources to ensure a meaningful cervical cancer prevention program here. We had plans to bring my mom and her and her family for a long dreamed of vacation to Antigua. Now, we have not only lost her but we see that her 2 small children will have to endure a childhood without a mother.
And then, just 2 days later, we learned that Orfelinda and Ismael were blessed with their beautiful baby "Anita". With a healthy delivery and the most loving family you could find, this baby is starting a life that is truly blessed. Their older son, Jessi, is now in Toledo studying at St. John's High School. His progress in just 4 months has been incredible. He has totally became part of the Thaman family who so lovingly took him in as their own while he is in school.
So, here we are for 10 days hoping to do all we can to set in motion some programs that might actually make truly meaningful differences for the people of the Peten. There is so much corruption, inertia, lack of resources, lack of will here. The longer we do this, the more we realize the depth of the obstacles. On the plane ride, I was reading a book recommended by a friend. It talks a lot about the reality of evil and how our understanding of it can only be approached and never really achieved. We can neither comprehend nor control it. But, as J.R.R. Tolkien said "It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule."
So.....Sara and I spent the day making connections, spreading the message of Flori and doing all we could to ensure that our hopes for a comprehensive cervical cancer program in the Peten will one day be a reality.
We translated our project proposal this morning so we were able to distribute it to those we met with. We spent the morning with Dr Contreras from APROFAM (the Planned Parenthood) of Guatemala. She seemed incredibly interested and totally agreed with our approach. She promises to do all she can to make the February trip a great success. We then traveled to Antigua to meet with the executive director of WINGS, Guatemala. They are involved in one aspect of cervical cancer prevention and could potentially be great partners. Finally, we spent several hours with Isabel DeBosch and her daughter who are intimately involved with Rotary International here in Guatemala. They are keenly interested in this program and together, I believe we can make this a reality.
Tomorrow, we will be attending a conference about technology and education in developing countries. We'll also be meeting with the Rotary International group and with the woman from US AID. Then we're headed up to Peten in the evening. On Thursday, we'll be giving a presentation about maternal mortality to a group of 75 midwives in Santa Ana.
Seems like there are so many doors opening and I can only pray that this work will ultimately lead to less suffering in this beautiful country.