October continued to be a busy month at the clinic. In late September, Guatemala lifted its restriction on foreigners coming into the country. Dr. Toledo and our nursing staff continued to work in the clinic daily and see patients. Our patients and the surrounding community continued to need food along with medical care.
In late October, Camotan Clinic partnered with several other Guatemalan organizations and delivered 5 truckloads of food to the people around Camotan. If you have been reading the blog this year, you know that the pandemic has been devastating on citizens of Guatemala. Getting food to those who need it has been our focus. There is more aid coming to those around Camotan: much of this is thanks to those of you who support us every month. So thank you. We were happy not just for those that were helped but also because of the partnerships we are developing with other Guatemalan charity organizations.
Just after our week of food delivery, a severe tropical depression developed in the Caribbean and soon formed Hurricane Eta. This powerful storm would turn into a Category 4 hurricane and run over Nicaragua, Honduras and the area of Camotan. Nearly 20 inches of rain fell in a couple days near Camotan. A family living outside Camotan was swept in a mudslide with all 7 of them dying. They were patients of the clinic and friends of ours. A very sad time.
Dr. Strohecker was prepared to come in that next week for the first time in 9 months. Roads were damaged but passable. Then on November 15th, yet another hurricane formed in the Caribbean. This hurricane, Hurricane Iota would cross the Atlantic and strengthen to a category 5 hurricane. Within a few days this hurricane ran almost the exact same path over Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. Dr. Strohecker did not make it in.
Hurricane Iota added another 20 inches of rain to the Camotan area and this time, two cement bridges were taken out on 2 of the 3 roads running into Camotan. This left (and still leaves) only 1 road into Camotan.
So, although we remained open, we still have not been able to get teams or our doctors into Guatemala yet. Dr. Stahl, Dr. Strohecker and our other regular medical teams are currently dealing with the surge in Covid cases here in the US and are not able to get time off to get into Guatemala.
The month of December brought calmer weather. We continued to be busy and as the rivers receded and the single remaining road into Camotan was cleared, things seemed to feel a bit more normal. Dr. Toledo and medical groups from Guatemala City still were working and getting supplies to the clinic regularly.
And for Christmas, we used some of your donations to throw a party near the clinic for local residents (see above). We still gave out a lot of basic food and supplies people needed. But with the donations many of you give to us, we were able to give clothes, shoes and toys to many people up on the mountain villages.
So, we end the year on a positive note. Christmas time in the villages and Camotan was better thanks to the donations from many of you. It has been quite a year. The pandemic has paralyzed Guatemala and kept our US teams and doctors from coming in. And the economic impact on a country already struggling from that pandemic is hard to understate. And then of course two devastating back to back hurricanes added more pain and suffering to this country. But we have remained open, supported by you and hopeful.
This coming year is already one we are looking forward to. If the pandemic slows down enough, we will get some of our groups into Guatemala in Spring 2021. We have water programs, obstetrics programs, dental and medical residents all waiting to restart their work in the clinic. And we have the opportunity to buy some land and expand the clinic more. So thank you all for your faithfulness in supporting us this year. Thank you for your prayers, your concern and for your donations. We are excited about what 2021 will hold.