My 9th trip to Guatemala with Faith in Practice by Char Schumann, RN

My trip to Guatemala in Oct 2022 was very rewarding. It was wonderful to see the country recovering slowly from the pandemic. Students were back in school. Vaccines are being given to many people

IMG_5060People were out and about without masks and celebrating The Day of the Dead as they did before Covid struck in 2020.

Our team had 21 volunteers and we are still seeing only half the patients we use to see to avoid overcrowding at the clinic with possible spread of the virus. Everyone at the clinic has to wear masks.

We saw 250 patients a day instead of 125 a year ago. Still A far cry from our precovid numbers of 500 daily. Hopefully sometime soon we will be back to a team of 30-35 volunteers seeing 500 patients daily.IMG_5570 (1)

                We were in the far southeastern part of the country near the El Salvador border. We were in the village of Quezada in the Department of Jutiapa. I ran the lab on this trip and had trouble with the lighting.

Our side of the school we were in had no electricity in the rooms while we were there so I moved my lab outside.  The second day the men of the village came and put up a giant tarp overhead to keep it cooler but which also blocked the light     I needed to read the urine strips. My red hat{what the local volunteers are called) volunteer called her husband to bring over a desk lamp for me to use.  The red hats are essential to our clinics as they escort patients from place to place and keep track of who is next at each clinic.  My redhat, Kenia, went above and beyond and would seat patients at the blood or urine station as their turn came up. She quickly learned how the clinic ran and anticipated a lot, sending patients to the bathroom for urine specimens before I even saw them.IMG_5139                On This trip we had Dermatology, Pediatrics, General Medicine, ObGyn, Pharmacy and the Lab. Referrals schedule patients who need surgery for one of the 2 hospitals Faith in Practice does surgery at. One is in Antigua and One in Retalhulieu on the far southwestern coast by the Pacific Ocean. We also had a wheelchair clinic where patients are evaluated for walkers, canes or wheelchairs. The wheelchairs come in boxes from China and several volunteers spend their clinic time assembling the wheelchairs. One of our general doctors spent his time in the wheelchair clinic seeing to the patients medical needs.

                The last picture is of me and one of our redhat volunteers, Hilda, who is a teacher in Jutiapa. I had collected 30 boxes of 24 crayons, rulers, erasers, and about 20 spanish books that I donated to her school. She was so happy she took pictures of her students with the books and crayons, went to the store and had the picture we are holding made for me to take home. I was so touched that it meant so much to her and her students and I will cherish the picture forever. I sent copies to the people who had contributed school supplies. I love Guatemala and the Guatemalan people. They have so little in the way of possessions and so much joy, love and gratitude for what they do have and for the care we give to them.IMG_5602 (2)

We bring our hearts, our love and the medical care that we can give them. They give us so much more in return.