My Thoughts as a First-Time Volunteer with MDP
By: Samuel Callisto, Saint Mary’s University (of Minnesota) Class of 2012
Entering into this trip I had no idea what to expect. Before I left home, people kept asking me what I would be doing, where I would be going, etc. All I could say was that I was going to be a pharmacy tech in the area of San Lucas, Guatemala. After being here for almost a week, I am very grateful that I took a leap of faith and came on this trip.
My time here has given me a lot of insight into the lives of Guatemalans. My life in America is so blessed; there are so many things that I take for granted every day, that I never realized were not available to people living in other areas of the world. The infrastructure here does not compare to what we have in the States. Even finding an antibiotic to treat an illness is a process. It is so great to see all the people that we are able to help here, but there are still so many people in need. However, the smile on their faces as they leave our clinic shows how grateful these people are for us to be offering our time to help them.
By Two of the Seasoned (Expert) Madelia Nursing Team: Katy Eiselt and Mary Arndt
No words can describe the sites, the living conditions or the health problems of people living in poverty. I was amazed at the simplicity and settings of our daily clinics, yet the way we were able to see and treat so many patients in such a short time was quite amazing. Daily clinic set up is established with the help and cooperation of every member of the team. The nurses station is the first access to care in the clinic. As patients and families approach us, we are met with faces of anticipation, anxiety, and shyness. After all, they are entrusting their health problems and concerns with strangers- some whom are unable to speak their language. The beautiful children, the opportunity to hold a tiny baby while mom is being admitted, and the chance to interact with the small children is our reward.
Although we come here to serve the people here in Guatemala, we receive much more than we give. After being seen in the clinic, the smiles on the patient and their families faces, the hugs, the hand shakes and words of appreciation serve as a reward that is difficult to describe. Our work, our rewards certainly leave us with a feeling of humility. We are truly blessed.
Saturday November 16th, 2013
By Bridget Hermer
If you ever have the opportunity to travel to Guatemala one of the first things you notice about the people is their smiles and their genuine warmth. Perhaps this is because we are coming from southern Minnesota where people tend to be a little more staid. In Guatemala people welcome you. They greet you on the street with a ‘Buenos Dias” or “Buenos Noches” and a nod of the head. It feels good to be among them.
It’s been a couple of rough but good days of clinic. Rough because of the obvious persistent need of the people and good because we are right where we are meant to be; equipped with the right medicines, compassionate nurses and providers and a great team of interpreters and pharmacists. Yesterday we were in the pueblo of San Martin. There we were able to care for about 70 patients. Many people waited patiently for their turn to be seen by one of our providers. Many of the older people spoke only Kaquikel and so the health care promoters in the village helped us translate. This always takes a little longer because every sentence has to be translated twice and that takes time.
Today we went down the mountain to Quixaya. I’ve been to Quixaya about 5 or 6 times in the last 7 years and there is always a need. This morning we were greeted by a mother whose young baby had pneumonia. She was waiting for us when we arrived and told me that she had been up half of the night. She knew that her baby was sick but didn’t have any money for medicine and so she was grateful that we had arrived at just the right moment. Dr. Norris ordered a shot of Rocephin and gave her some antibiotics. We will check up on the baby on Monday to make sure all is well. We were able to help many sick children and older people who live with a lot of pain and still have to carry heavy loads up and down the mountain. Today there was a mother with inoperable cancer and a young 5 year old girl who was found as an infant in a trash can and is now being raised by her adopted mother who is 80 years old. These are human stories that we won’t forget.
Sometimes it is difficult to understand, comprehend, face, the suffering that occurs because of poverty. We know that we are blessed to be here. In the midst of life, in the midst of it all we are able to share what we have; our medicines, our knowledge, our smiles, and our own “Buenos Dias.”
Thursday November 14, 2013
By Bridget Hermer
It was another beautiful day of sunshine here in San Lucas. The day started off a little slow. We had eaten breakfast at the parish and had just loaded all the medical supplies into the back of the pickup when we discovered that one of the tires was flat. That set us back about an hour and we arrived late to the village of El Naranjo. El Naranjo is located up the mountain from San Lucas and is a small village of about 1000 people. The air is fresh and the people are typical Mayan; strong, intelligent, hardworking and family centered. They are also very poor. It is a poverty that is difficult to comprehend. One that leaves them with few choices.
We had a busy day of clinic. We saw close to 70 people. Each one with their own story. One man was partially paralyzed on the right side of his body because of a fall he had taken 20 years previously. When Dr. Jim asked him if he was able to work his reply was “Yes, of course. I can still cut cornstalks with my left hand.” I am continually amazed at the resiliency of these people.
I hope that I will always remember a pair of sisters who came in to the clinic together. The older sister was concerned for her younger sister because she seemed sad and despondent. She wasn’t eating and was losing weight. She also had some spots on her face and felt that she wasn’t attractive. Big crocodile tears were shed as we talked about what it felt like to be a young girl; the confusion, the emotions and the fears. Dr. Jim was able to offer some medicines to help with the spots on her skin but I believe more importantly he was able to offer a place where she felt loved and cared for.
“These people work so hard” is a common statement heard from many of our team members. It is true. When there is no money, no food, no clean water, and wood needs to be cut and brought to the house for warmth, life isn’t easy. Poverty is something I feel I am just beginning to learn about. Walking with the Guatemalan people for this short week is a privilege.
Monday, November 12, 2013
Sorry for the late posts, as we have had limited connectivity the past two days.
Meet the team!
Team Leaders: Bridget Hermer - interpreter
and Nancy Linder FNP
Interpreters: Ana Ovalle, Monica Cuellar (and Nurse)
Pharmacy: Dynette Niebuhr, Sam Callisto
Nurses: Mary Arndt and Katie Eiselt
Doctors: Jim Eiselt and John Norris
Intake: Isabella Ovalle
A message from Nancy...
After work on Monday, I spent the night doing my packing and final preparation for our upcoming mission. Unfortunately, I failed to save some time for a little nap before taking off for Mankato to meet up with the rest of the team at 2 am. As I traveled to Mankato with my friend Dynette, I marveled at the beautiful sunset in the western horizon, however, my friend Dynette reminded my it was 1 am- that wasn’t the sun, it was the moon!!! (time has passed so fast tonight, it was already morning!!!) We laughed so hard we almost cried-funny what fatigue will do for you.
Our team met at the airport at 3:30 am. Following a somewhat challenging check in at the airport (our attendant had a little difficulty mastering her job) we made it to the gate in time to load the plane. We had a 20 minute delay for de-icing the plane, but oh well, it is Minnesota!! We made our connection flight (barely) and then off to Guatemala. We arrived in Guatemala approximately 12:50 pm and literally sailed through customs without even so much as a question or opening of a suitcase!!!
After supper and a short orientation, we settled into our hotel- the Iquitiu for a good night sleep!!! All is well… we are tired, but eager to begin our journey together! (for those of you that have been in this Hotel, they have done some remodeling in the rooms (updating) and all new beautiful bedding. We are the only people here at the mission until Friday.
Keep us in your prayers…
November 13, 2013
Today we set off for our first day in the village of San Juan Mirador….. Of course we all loved the ride to clinic in back of a pickup truck as we enjoyed the open air, the view of the volcanoes, coffee bean crop, and the Guatemalan people walking along the roadside as they went about their daily business. The weather today was more warm than usual-but it still beats the Minnesota weather we left behind on Tuesday morning!!
In clinic today, we served 66 patients- three of them were house calls. Things went amazingly smooth for being our first day of clinic! Who would have guessed we have 5 members of our team that are making their first trip with MDP. (They are experts already!!) Our pharmacy team - Sam and Dynette were quick to catch on to the difficult task of running a pharmacy. Our interpreters Bridget, Monica and Ana were outstanding! And of course, it’s always an honor and privilege to be back working side by side by two of our MDP expert Physicians Dr. Jim and Dr. John. Our nurses Katie and Mary were comforting to the long line of patients awaiting a doctor and had the opportunity to do some much needed wound care. As always, a smile from a patient has a way of melting your heart. It’s good to be back working with Jesus, the village health promoters and the volunteers at the Parish. It’s been a good day…. Right now, the team is having a good round of “What’s yours like?” with lots of laughs and good entertainment!! The team did let Bridget win…. Just to stay on her good side…. And we are ready to take on another day!!! Our thoughts and prayers are with our family, friends, and supporters of MDP!!