The Heinrich/Pond surgery team has arrived safely in Antigua! What a busy travel day we all had. Upon arrival in Guatemala City it seems we were immediately shuffled into collecting, transporting, and getting through customs. When you travel with 40+ people and their personal belongings, then strap on boxes and luggage filled with medical supplies it creates a fairly chaotic dance. The Guatemalan airport is definitely not LAX. It is hot and filled with travelers and family seeking their loved ones. Keep in mind most locals and airport representatives do not speak English creating a pretty big language barrier. A massive group walking through in Red shirts with luggage on luggage really stands out. At this point we are still all strangers. Tired strangers too. We have to heavily rely on one another and communicate clearly to be sure that we can get through. Whether we were aware of it or not it allowed us to bond together as a team.
Out of customs we were greeted by Maria, our Faith In Practice Representative, she helped us onto the buses to our next stop. As we cruised up the hills to our destination in Antigua outside of Guatemala City we admired the beautiful architecture throughout the streets, reflected about previous trips, and watched the tenacity of the hustling people.
Many hands helped in not only physically bringing together supplies but also in creating our entire team! Our team is comprised of mostly Texans with scattered friends across the US. Each individual team member holds an important role in making this trip a success. The make up of our team breaks down into Nurses, Surgeons, Doctors, Physical Therapists, Anesthesiologists, and many other willing spirited folks all with brilliant, and highly creative minds. There was a lot of excitement as we came together old and new throughout our journey to Guatemala. There were many returning faces as well as new volunteers to Faith In Practice. Regardless, it is safe to say we were all eager to get going with patients.
Our first stop was Casa de Fe. In Guatemala they do not have Ronald McDonald housing so here they offer Casa de Fe. They help provide after care for patients needing housing after their procedures who do not have the ability to travel right away. They create a huge impact on the people we help!
The specific purpose of Heinrich/Pond’s team is to provide care to patients with trauma, hip, knee, and joint replacement needs. All of the patients we will see do not have access to the healthcare they need. It isn’t uncommon for patients to travel 3-5 days to Antigua for the services and help our team can provide. Some of these people come from villages without running water, electrical amenities at their dispense, and unfortunately sometimes the only healthcare they have access too is too expensive or uncooperative to their individual needs.
Our first night in town we got to adventure out for some local dining. Ironically enough the place we picked was Texas BBQ! On this sleepy eventful day it was comforting to find our home away from home in potato salad, pulled pork, and BBQ sauce.
We have a high stack of patients to work through tomorrow (Sunday) but the team is full of optimism and positivity.