The Guatemala Medical Mission Trip of 2014; I am a major part of it, yet I did not expect to be. My plan for the sophomore academic year was to work for Xavier’s Learning Assistance Department, work in the Emergency Department at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital, and excel in organic chemistry and physics. It was a wonderful change of my plan though when Rabbi Abi accredited me with a spot in the group of pre-professional health students who make this trip happen. But with all due respect, much of my teammates and my own success was due to the support of family, friends, and the Xavier community. I do want you to truly see my gratitude because these past 5 months have dramatically impacted my every day decisions and personality. Although this trip has gone on for 5 months, these past 5 days have been the best for obvious reasons.
As of today, I have worked in every station of the clinic, which constitutes: triage, dental hygiene, glasses fitting, pharmacy, adult medical care, and pediatric medical care. However, I do not think “worked” is the right verb in this situation. The phrase “brought 1st-world healthcare to a poverty stricken 3rd-world village” is more fitting. The truth behind this humbling phrase is supported by our patients. It may just be me, but I feel as though 70% of our patients consisted of children under the age of 10 and adults over the age of 55. For the +55 year-olds back in the US, just know that you all are very different from the adults here. But this patients cliental really surprised me. I expected the abundance of pediatric patients, but I did not expect the abundance of geriatric patients. The great part about this wonderful surprise is the gratitude! If you know anything about me, you most likely know my love for kids. Future pediatrician is a set of words that is not uncommon to me. Yet my favorite moments thus far came from a 67, 70, and 84 year old. These men and women are at the top of my most beautiful chart and they honestly have brought tears to my eyes. The supply of gracias’s and mucho gusto’s is endless! Their simplicity humbles me and fills my soul with pride and joy. Jose, the 84 year-old, WAS basically blind at 18 inches away from the letter chart. I put a pair of glasses on him that helped him see just a fraction better and he was all smiles. So ecstatic that he could barely answer my follow up questions. When all was said and done, our glasses corrected his vision to 20/50 at 10 feet away. It basically means that he could differentiate letters the size of bingo chips from 10 feet away. But just think about how he could not see letters the size of golf balls from 18 inches. Besides being a sweetheart and the cutest little old man, he was bewildered and kind. Upon walking out with his new fancy glasses, he said, “God bless you all because you have given me the precious gift of sight.” The five basic human senses are taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight. I do not know where else I would rather be than giving Jose his sight.
To every one following our mission: I am truly living every second and taking every one of them into heart during my time here. The extremes of this population bewilder me and I am going to let it keep happening for 2 more days. Thank you to all for helping Jose regain his sight at 84 years of age!
With much love,
Tyler J. Sauerbeck
March 5, 2014
PS: It is very tough having 60 degree weather every day (: