Setting up our clinic in Machaquila

Posted on: 01/30/2019

People crowd close to the gate before the clinic opens.. Faith In Practice volunteers and staff unload the truck for clinic set-up. Boxes of wheelchairs are waiting to be unpacked. The gate is opened for the first time! Tagni does "red hat" student  volunteer orientationand passes out red hats. Mopsy screens a baby with a cleft palate and refers her for life-changing surgery. Proud woman shows a mole she caught to Betsy.  She's planning to sell it for 30Q for someone's dinner! Women waiting at cryo and gynecology clinic with Flory Big wheel chair line-up today! Mother and daughter hoping for a new wheelchair Dr. Carlos pulling brave Darlia's three front baby teeth to make room for more! A new look for Darlia! Healthy baby Rosbin and his mom get advice on effective nursing. People wait patiently for surgery referrals. Hector trains his new kitchen crew of red hats. Young family receives a wheel chair for their loving, diabetic father. Elderly man with deformed hands and feet shows off his "hand shoe" inventions. Crystal and a cutie! Dr. Bob Wells, Betsy and Mayan woman with carpal tunnel problems receives exercise advice. Dr. Jim, a grandmother and grand daughter celebrate a successful consultation.

Pre-breakfast devotions this morning were led by Deb (DPT). She raised the questions, “Why am I here?” and “What is needed that I can provide?” She reminded us of the story of Esther from the Bible. Esther was a beautiful Jewish young woman who was discovered by the servants of King Xerxies, who taken by her beauty and chose to marry her. She kept her religious and ethnic background secret. At some point, the king issued a decree to kill the Jewish people because Mordicai (a Jew) would not bow to the King-appointed man, Haman. Haman was upset by this and plotted to kill Mordicai and all the Jewish people. Esther used her influence on the king to persuade him to create another decree to help the Jewish people. Her people told her, “You were placed in the family of the king for such a time as this!” Deb also referenced 1st Corinthians 12:1-26 in which Paul stated that there are many kinds of spiritual gifts and that the body has many parts, yet all are part of the same body. All are needed, just as our team has people with many skills. We use these skills and work cohesively to accomplish our job of caring for the people of Guatemala. Dr. Bob asked us to think about how we are a team with our Guatemalan colleagues as we do our work today.

The location of our next clinic is the village of Machaquila. It is only 15 minutes from where we are staying. This clinic is being held on the grounds of Instituto de Ciencias Agroforestales y Vida (ICAVIS). When we arrived there was, as usual, a long line of people waiting, some who had most probably walked for hours in the night to get here. Our first job was to unload the equipment and medical supplies from the transport truck.  All of us lined up to help. When the set-up was complete, the gate monitors started letting people in to go through the usual routine of triage and referral to the appropriate clinic.

This morning I focused first on the work of the dental clinic. There were a lot of children there to have teeth pulled to eliminate decay and also, in the case of Darlia, a girl of about 8 years, to have three baby teeth removed to make room for her permanent teeth that were starting to crowd in. She was very brave lying there waiting for each step and clearly worried about what was coming. But she continued to take deep breaths to help herself relax. When the anesthetic was applied topically and also injected, she didn’t cry.  Again, when it was her turn for Dr. Carlos to extract her teeth, she seemed calm and didn’t cry. What a trooper!

There was a huge group of people lined up outside the wheelchair clinic. A young man, Victor Santiago, was born with an unbending right leg. He was being fitted with a wheelchair.  Deb and her assistant & translator, Kimberly, were fashioning a way to keep his hips aligned at the back of the chair using a postitioning strap around his pelvis and softened the pull of the strap with a portion of a pool noodle attached to the strap. Innovation is the name of the game with wheelchair fitting!

My next stop was triage outside of the pediatric clinic. Kathi (nurse) and translator Ana were talking to the mother of Osvin to find out her concerns about her son. Part of this process is taking temperatures and weighing the child. The next mom brought her 2-month-old son, Rosbin. The baby has a hernia and his mother was also concerned about his seeming inability to take in her breast milk at a rapid pace. Kathi gave her suggestions about how to deal with her generous milk production so that her baby could feed better. Waiting in line was Sulindo with her 7-month-old son, Fermin. Fermin has a cleft lip and left palate. I caught up with them later when Jeff was translating in Q’eqchi, a Mayan language, for Mopsy (PA) who examined the baby and referred him for surgery. Back at the wheelchair clinic Deb, with Kimberly’s assistance, was fitting an older man with deformed hands and feet with a wheelchair. He was so appreciative of his new wheels! This man was also an inventor. He had fashioned some hand shoes to fit his deformity – a different shape for each hand – that he has used down through the years for “walking” with his hands. Each had a piece of rubber from a tire attached to the bottom as a sole. He also said he loves to swim and throws himself into the lake to swim using the hand shoes to crawl out and back into his wheelchair. “Thank you! Thank you! God Bless you!”, he says as he leaves. This man certainly has NOT lived his life seeing himself as a victim!

In another wheelchair story, a diabetic man with one leg was hoping for a wheelchair.  He lost his leg as a result of diabetes. He shows great affection for his wife and 5-year-old daughter. The daughter likes to ride around sitting face forward on the strap that is slung side-to-side below her father’s new wheelchair seat. The chances of him living to see his daughter married are slim, I’m told, due to his diabetes.

When the clinic day came to a close, we were tired and ready to return to our Gil Town home to be refreshed by a good dinner and an evening relaxing with colleagues, building new energy for tomorrow’s work as one body with many parts offering life-giving service.