Today the team took an 8.5 hour bus ride to Chicamán, a small town in the El Quiché department of Guatemala which will be our home base for the next four days. El Quiché has historically been one of the most populous departments of Guatemala, of which about 88% of the population is Mayan. While some people speak Spanish, there are 2-3 different dialects spoken by the patients for which we have local volunteers to help translate.
Once we settled into our new hotels in Chicamán, we had an orientation of how the clinics will function. Each morning our team will travel by bus from Chicamán to one of two villages that we will be serving. Faith In Practices works with local community leaders to find the neediest patients from up to 12 surrounding villages. Some patients will wait months to see us. The clinics are divided up into pediatrics, general adult, gynecology, and dental. We will treat those that we can and help identify those who need surgery so they can be referred.
For dinner we enjoyed a home cooked meal by a local Guatemalan family who will be providing all of our meals while in Chicamán. Then it was off to bed to rest up for our first day seeing patients and serving the people of Guatemala.
Caryn Cassidy, MD
Tenth Street Pediatrics
Children's Hospital Los Angeles