As this is written a commercial about Home Depot just finished playing. Oh Guatemala!
It's hard to believe that today was the last day in the clinic. I have so many more questions about the Guatemalan health system and how the people of Patanatic and Panajachel get access to health care. I know that four days out of a week cannot possibly fix the problems these people face everyday, but I just hope that we were able to perhaps bring hope and joy as well as a little medicine to this community.
Yesterday, we went to an elementary school in San Pedro. We packed up everything and made a make shift clinic in an empty classroom. To get to San Pedro, we had to take a tiburonera (boat) across Lake Atitlán. That was an exciting ride. I think I have found another way for me to conquer insomnia, riding in a tiburonera for 30 minutes and I'm out! Anyway, we got to the school and as usual dream teamed our way through set up. The thing that amazed me about being at the school was the conditions in which we found the school. The empty classroom was incredibly dusty and every window sill had bird excrement on it. If you tried to open the window you risked a chance at having dry bird excrement thrown at you. Children learn in these classrooms, remember that part. Touching the tables also meant leaving with a film of dust on your hands that never really seemed to come off. The bathrooms were as clean as the janitor could make them and they had a nice orange smell after he mopped but it didn't change the fact that their plumbing system (this is everywhere) does not allow you to flush toilet paper. There were old rusty nail filled boards everywhere. And YET, when these kids had the opportunity to just be in the same place as us, they were grateful. As they were in the 6th grade they had their own special way of showing it, but they were grateful. I will never forget Yesenia, my "full of attitude, fake crying because I'm fake scared, I am the coolest chick in this school" friend that needed a little help understanding the rules of the clinic. Sometimes, calling someone out by their short name gets a lot of respect, so Yese, I hope one day we cross paths again and we can talk! The last thing I will not forget about the school was their incredibly caring, loving, concerned and gracious principal. Even before we began to see the children, he was thanking us for our work. He nearly cried when we finished because he was so grateful. I think I can count on one hand how many times a principal, teacher, or professor cared that much about their students in the U.S.
Today was the last day in the clinic before we go to Antigua and today was happy and sad all at the same time. There some pretty sick patients seen today from the looks of the scripts in the pharmacy (my station this morning) and triage (my station this afternoon). We didn't have too many patients today but some of my favorite things was getting to do the deworming. The other Stephanie sent back about 4 or 5 kids from the elementary back to me today at a time so that I could explain how the medication should be taken. Somehow today all the school kids were boys but I think they had fun. This pill they take is disgusting but these guys chewed them up as fast as they could so they could win the race and have some water. I like this because this way they would be thinking less about the taste and more about the game. Well, it worked like a charm! I got new friends all over the place because of the game.
This has been a trip in which my final goals have been validated by the infrastructure here in Guatemala. I want to change health care so that people are not getting left behind because they cannot purchase insurance, or medicine. This is wrong in my eyes. I have felt such a strong tie to this community and frankly, I am not exactly sure how I'm going to be able to leave. I have begun friendships here that will be hard to leave behind. I know this will not be my last time in Guatemala. I just have to figure out how and when I'm coming back because at this point, I am strongly drawn to this place and can see myself here for the long term. Let's see where the wind takes me. . .
March 7, 2014