Difficult times persist for all those living in Camotan and all of Guatemala as well. As the prior post from March and April discussed, when the US economy slows, it greatly affects all of Guatemala. In March and April, Guatemala suffered predominantly from the economic slowdown here in the US. The Guatemalan President banned (and this continues to be in place) all flights from the US and Canada due to the coronavirus. Our clinic started seeing many patients starving and without food along with needing medical services at that time and this continues. It was (and is) a very sad time. Economic slow downs hurt us here in the US financially and many of us have sadly lost jobs. But in Guatemala that slow down leads eventually to a more dire situation of starvation and struggling just to get through the day for some. In June alone we delivered food to 99 families in the surrounding villages who are most in need.
Getting ready to visit the villages most in need of food.
Supplying food to families in Cajon del Rio a village above Camotan
Roads remain closed in Guatemala except to essential workers and medical personnel. But we have remained open. The clinic is still running and seeing our patients. And now as June proceeds, the virus has found its way to Guatemala in earnest. The capital city of Guatemala City is overwhelmed as I write this. Hospitals are full, people are dying both in and out of the hospital from the coronavirus. Thus far the government estimates over 15,000 cases and 623 deaths from coronavirus although these numbers are most certainly underestimates. And medical personnel do not want to work with those who are sick as many have no protective equipment.
In Camotan, the disease is also spreading. At Camotan Clinic, we have masks, gowns and gloves. Thanks to the donations from many of you, we have also been able to support the chronically underfunded local health centers in this time. We have delivered 150 masks to the other health care workers in Camotan and another surrounding town Jocotan. These medical personnel would have no protective equipment otherwise. So, we not only continue to see our patients, we are supporting the local health centers as well by making sure they have masks and shields to see patients.
Dr. Toledo and Dr. Venegas, the community health center’s main physician in Camotan
Above, Dr. Toledo is shown with Dr. Venegas as she drops off supplies at the local health center just down the street from Camotan Clinic. This local health center, like almost all health centers and clinics in Guatemala, is chronically under supplied and under funded.
Preparing masks and faceshields at Camotan Clinic
So, despite Dr. Strohecker, Dr. Stahl and other medical teams being unable to get into the country, we continue to work and serve in Camotan Clinic. We are able to keep shipping supplies from the US to keep the clinic stocked. For those of you that donate, your donations are working, going directly to patient care (medications, masks, etc) in this very hard time. Many of our projects are on hold right now (like a water filtration system, intern programs, etc). But thanks to your support and prayers, we are finding a way to keep our patients cared for. We have enough funds to buy food for our neediest patients. And we are lending a hand to the local health centers which are also struggling.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. And we thank you all for your support, prayers and concern in this most difficult time for Guatemala.