Day 1 of clinic started off bright and early at 5:30am with an inspiring morning devotional and prayer by Dr. Christi Hunt. She focused on the topic of empathy versus sympathy and the vast differences that many may fail to recognize. Even if we have not stood in the exact shoes as the patients we would encounter today, we can still provide kindness and support to each and every patient no matter how big or small their challenges are, no matter how much or how little we can personally relate to them.
As we arrived at the clinic, the long line of patients already stretched along the length of the school building. Men, women, boys, and girls all smiled and waved as our buses pulled in. The Delk Team members were eager to get off the buses and start our first day of clinic. Patients were treated for a variety of illnesses such as infections, scabies, hypertension, diabetes, allergies, seizure disorders, pain, asthma, etc, while others were referred for surgery, saw the physical therapist or optometrist, had teeth pulled, or VIA/cryotherapy for potential cervical cancer.
Below, we will share a couple of short patient snap-shots that “struck a cord” with some of our volunteers:
1. One of our team leaders, Dr. Christopher Delk, and his interpreter Sharon Devine have worked together for many years. Always paired together, they are quite a dynamic duo. Sharon shared a story with me today that showcased the gratitude and faith of many of the Guatemalan people. As she told me about the conversation, tears filled her eyes. Five-year-old Maria Elizabeth came to clinic in her mother’s arms. She was unable to walk on her own due to cerebral palsy, a condition that unfortunately effects thousands in Guatemala and if often causes by birthing trauma (Faith In Practice holds local birthing training in order to help prevent this type of complication). When the mother sat down, all she could say was, “God is so good.” And God is so good. We may think, how can someone with so many daily challenges remain so faithful and optimistic? This story truly put our everyday challenges back in the USA into perspective. This type of story is a simple reminder that no matter how hard our lives may seem at times, there is always hope and much to be thankful for. Thankfully, Maria Elizabeth was sent to referrals to arrange to have a wheelchair custom made just for her that can also assist with holding her head up. It is not always about fixing the problem, but rather doing as much as we possibly can to ease every day troubles even just a little bit.
2. Another volunteer shared a story about a three-year-old boy with a cyst on his lower spine. He had recently had a surgery to remove the cyst, but is still unable to move his legs. His family was still wondering, why can’t he walk? Sometimes this is the hardest part of the trip. Telling families that there is not anything that we can do to help despite all of our efforts and resources. One of our volunteers stated, “it is heart breaking when they come hoping for miracles that we sometimes just can’t give to them.” Even when it seems like all hope is gone, kindness, support, and empathy is still greatly appreciated by families as they are reassured that everything medically possible has been done.
3. A man with a painful hernia that had been present for many years was seen in by the Faith In Practice referrals team. He was finally able to receive the surgical treatment he required. However, when he was told the cost of the travel and procedure, even with the extremely reduced cost available through Faith In Practice, he began to cry. He was unable to afford this and appeared to have lost hope. He stated that he only had 200 quetzals to spare (~26 U.S. dollars). However, the referrals team reassured him that he should not worry. They would provide transportation, lodging, and the procedure at no more than 200 quetzals cost to him. At this time, the volunteer stated that his tears completely dried up and only happiness remained. Through Faith In Practice, this extremely humble and gracious man was brought hope and reassurance.
As everyone now turns in for the night, we are excited to return to Sanarate tomorrow for another full clinic day! Thanks for reading!