Friday, July 18, 2014

An Update from Ila in Guatemala

Guatemala team volunteers at a training session in Arizona
Dear folks,
I meant this as an internal document for Guatemala Project team members, but it reveals so much about the nature of the Project that I decided to forward it to others.  Use as you see fit.
Ila, coordinator, St. Michael's Guatemala Project

-----Forwarded Message-----
From: Ila Abernathy
Sent: Jul 18, 2014 8:20 AM

Greetings to all.  Team 3, make sure you get to the detail on first few days at the end. 

I will be working at the CPR-Sierra office most of today but will check e-mail at least once, and again this evening and tomorrow through noon.  In the afternoon I'm moving to the apartment of a friend and won't have Wi-Fi access, but Team 3, don't despair. I'll check at an internet café sometime Sunday, and I'm returning to Casa SAn Jose either late Sunday or very early Monday, in time to get any late messages, plane schedule changes, etc.

Team 3, now that RN Sarah Roberts is back in Tucson (I hope), you may be able to route some questions to her.  If you talk to someone who has been here only once and the info differs from what's on your "what to bring" info, believe the sheet or ask Sarah, as needs for each community are different.  Try not to overwhelm Sarah, though.  We are going to miss her, as it's really nice to have two of us who already know the communities we visit.

Followup on selected patients  (team 3, these are the dramatic ones, but do read to understand better what we do)

Magdalena, the little girl in Pal who needs an echocardiogram:  Equipo member Diego says he will wait a few months and then reapproach the family gently, after they have gotten over the shock of the death of Magdalena's cousin, also Magdalena, following surgery in the capital.

Nicolas, the youngster with cleft lip and palate in Caba who is long overdue for surgery (now between 9 and 13 years old):  His adult brother, who was to accompany him and Team 2 from Caba to Nebaj for initial contact at the hospital, called Pedro and said that the alcalde auxiliar (local mayor) called a community work day, and he had to show up (this is particularly important in a divided community like Caba / Caba La Laguna, so one side doesn't badmouth the other for not working).  He plans to bring young Nicolas to Nebaj to meet some of Team 3 at the hospital Monday, July 28.  This messes up our schedule but is essential.  Team 3, Nicolas has never left Caba, which is approached only by really muddy footpaths.  He has never even see a car, bus, or truck, or as may people as he will encounter.  This first visit is in part so he will begin to experience "El Pueblo."  The Project pays transportation for him and his brother.

Genaro, the tiny 9-year-old from Tesorito with sky-high temp who looked so very sick, whom we sent to Patulul with health worker for dengue and malaria tests at the Centro de Salud:  Antonio says he is better but didn't know the test results.  I told him we wanted to know, without implying that, as lead health person, he should have asked.  Will broach that later, in our final meeting, as either disease would be a public health concern for the entire community.  We need to lean on the Tesorito workers a wee bit, though pushing isn't an effective technique.

Francisco, the young man from Nuevo Amanecer with what was almost certainly tubercular swelling and lumps on his neck, received a positive diagnosis and has been sent home with meds and counseling.  Nicholas Chel, our friend who does HIV and TB control at the Nebaj hospital, has arranged followup through the Centro de Salud in Chajul.

Nicolas Chel also reported that his nephew, son of Magdalena, who owns the little comedor near the hotel where we get the good, cheap breakfasts, fell from the third level of their house and landed on his head.  He is in intensive care at Hospital Roosevelt, following surgery.  Magdalena, of course, is here as well.  I will try to make contact tomorrow, but I don't know when!  Magdalena naturally is very worried.

Dr. Pust, even before he came here, said the Project was about relationships, and that was the experience he was hoping for, for the med students.  I guess we proved it.  And that makes it doubly good that Heinrich and Sara L. reported such a rewarding experience working with Equipo de Salud member Gustavo in Area Santa Clara.  Also shows how important accompaniment and followup are.

TEAM 3, come prepared for a busy first few days.

We will be 5 in the Capital.  RN Lisa Brennan, from the Bay Area, will join us in Nebaj July 26.  We may do some "getting acquainted" exercises at the hotel that night, since it's the first time we will all be together.

Mon. July 21.  I am meeting planes at 1:11 and 9:25 p.m.  You will reimburse me for cab fare when you change money.  The luck early arrivals will be able to eat, relax, and change money Monday.

Tue. July 22.  Breakfast at Casa San Jose and quick orientation on how to navigate the city safely, and other such topics.  Money changing for those who haven't  We'll choose a "tesorero" for your group donations ($30 additional for those who brought supplies, $50 for those who didn't).  I can give you a donor tax note for this money, which we will use for extraordinary travel and extra meds and supplies we lack.  Lisa can add hers, and the application fee, when we see her in Nebaj.  Apart from this, everyone pays his / her own way -- hospedaje, meals, etc.  Casa San Jose is Q75 (about $10) per night.  Doubles with private bath where we stay in Nebaj are Q120, which at Q60 each comes roughly to $7.80 per person per night.  Single rooms are slightly more.

Lunch at Chikach ("big basket" in Quiche), 1 p.m., where two folk from the ecumenical group CEDEPCA will meet us to give in-country social-political updates and talk a bit about their work.  If there is time, some might want to visit the CEDEPCA offices, which are not too far away from Chikach, after lunch.

Evening -- Light supper, on your own, or we might decide to bring something back to the Casa to eat together.  Then a massive meds sort as we prepare to leave, final breakdown on stuff you will carry.  We can leave some stuff at Casa, without charge. 

Wednesday July 23  -- Travel to finca Union Victoria, San Miguel Pochuta, Chimaltenango (and no, we don't go through Chimaltenango -- it's south to Cocales, then up to Patulul and Pochuta), where lead health worker Pedro Bernal will be waiting for us.  He was adamant that Team 3 visit his community, because Kelly put him and Domingo up when they visited us in Tucson, and he wants her to see where he lives.  Transportation there, and to Nebaj on July 26, still pending, as there are multiple options.  We will almost certainly NOT depend upon public transportation to move from Pochuta to Nebaj.  More when you arrive.

A word to all:  None of us gets used to our full potential; it's just the nature of the work.  But we learn a lot, both from one another and from the people with whom we are working.

Ila (as always, a little more than a day late and a lot more than a dollar short)