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.”