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.