In June, we made our fourth annual trip to San Antonio de Padua Parish in remote Eastern Guatemala, where we provided medical care to over 1,000 residents in just four days. 2018 saw our biggest group of providers to date: a record number of volunteers including 33 nurses, doctors, and students, came together to journey to the Parish. This year, Parishioners were especially grateful to receive care from Maria Luisa de Leon, a dentist who practices in Guatemala City. Maria was touched and inspired by our mission, and we are thrilled to count her as one of our partners in providing care to the rural families in years to come.
In the spirit of partnership, we were again joined by doctors and recent graduates of Francisco Marroquin University (UFM), our Guatemalan partner school. Dr. Sophia Chang and Dr. Pedro Gonzalez provided invaluable clinical knowledge, expertise, and cultural advice. We also invited Jennifer and Andrew, two first-year UFM medical students. The stories they shared with the first-year medical students who accompany us from Creighton University gave us all a nice reminder that the first year of medical school is universally grueling, no matter the country in which one studies.
Easily, 2018’s biggest achievement was the purchase of the “busito,” a 2004 KIA van, lovingly cleaned, driven, and maintained by Hector. Depending on the medical needs of our Parishioners, Hector makes as many as three trips a week to our partner hospital, Fray Bartholomew de las Casas. “Fray Hospital” is at least three hours away from the Parish. While this distance sounds like nothing to us, it becomes much greater if you don’t have access to a car. Just getting from the Parish to where a public bus could pick you up could take you over half a day if traveling on foot. Hector’s impact reverberates through the Parish; many call him Brother Hector.
Hector wears many hats: he is our translator, bus driver, and friend to all whom he encounters. Truly, he embodies the pillars of Healing Hands Medical Mission. Cultural immersion. Simple living. Service. Community. Each week he shares the stories of his riders to Fray. We want you to know that even one wheelchair makes a huge difference in the lives of those we serve. Hector was grateful to be able to safely transport a woman who was having low blood sugar and was unable to walk to the busito.
Sometimes, it is these little things that make a huge impact. In June, we were able to help Kimberly, a child of six, who was unable to walk due to a birth defect where she was born without a foot. Although she was not initially a scheduled patient, Lisa Carani, our Nurse Practitioner and Assistant Medical Director, was determined to make a difference in this child’s life.
Kimberly’s life and mobility changed that day when she was given a simple set of donated crutches and instructed on how to use them. Watching her use her crutches to play with her friends for the first time brought tears to the eyes of most of the team members. As Mother Teresa reminds us: Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.