Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lavarse las Manos

Today was a very busy day. We started off bright and early in a clinic in a small town outside of Antigua. We spent the morning helping the nurse at the clinic take vital signs of the patients, including glucose readings, before the doctor arrived. Since there are ten of us, we rotated through being with patients and being in the waiting room. We got to practice our spanish a bit by giving short presentations on diabetes, diarrhea, and pneumonia. And, to celebrate father’s day, Lissette wrapped a few gifts for the fathers. We even got to hear some beautiful thoughts from the dads in the waiting room on what it means to them to be a father.

After the clinic, we traveled up the side of one of the volcanoes to another town where a school for girls was waiting for us to give more presentations on hand washing. It was very similar to our first trip to the school, but this time we took buckets with us so that we could actually show the girls how to wash their hands. The girls were dressed in traditional clothes, some with their hair braided with a red ribbon. They were full of smiles and giggles, wanting a picture or a hug. They all kept bumping into the girl in front of them as they attempted to patiently wait for their turn to wash their hands at the front of the line. When some of these girls started washing their hands, you could see the dirt caked beneath their nails, see the brown water drip off their fingers. But afterwards, watching them examine their work, and smelling the fresh scent of the soap in the courtyard was awesome. This was one of my favorite days so far, I just hope those girls, especially the little ones, took something away from today.

Afterwards, we traveled to another hospital in Antigua-this one named after Hermano Pedro. It is what we would call a specialty hospital in the states. This hospital has about 200 permanent residents, babies to adults, with mental or physical disabilities. This hospital was definitely better off than the one we saw earlier this week because it receives many donations, and has medical surgical teams volunteering their time forty weeks out of the year, but it was still unlike any hospitals you would find in the U.S. This hospital also provides free care for their patients, but ask that those who are able to make a donation, do so, in order to keep providing care to all of their patients. Walking through the halls and rooms of the hospital was very humbling. Unlike the private and sterile rooms back in in the states, this hospital had their patients all in one room, divided by age. The little kids each had their own bed, but they resembled cages more than cribs. Each place we have seen is another reminder of how cultures do what they can with what they have. The health professionals in Guatemala may not have all the equipment we do, but they do what they can, and that speaks volumes.


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