By now if you have followed our blogs you know that we have groups from the US that go to Camotan Clinic every 6-8 weeks. In between we have our full time staff working in Camotan providing care and food to those in need. On our January trip coming from the US were Jessica Meyers NP, Dan Humer PA, and Robyn Moore PA; all providers who had gone to Camotan Clinic before. Dr. Jovita Toledo, our fabulous dentist and do it all -manager of the clinic, accompanied Jessica, Dan and Robyn from Guatemala City.
Our team in Nearar on day 1. Trips are a wonderful chance to collaborate joining health professionals from the US and Guatemala.
Day 1 the group split up with Dr. Toledo and Dan staying in the clinic seeing patients. Robyn and Jessica were able to travel up to Nearar and saw 33 patients in the area of Neonja. This was a small amount of patients but it allowed time to connect with families and really understand their needs. It was also a great day to make sure the mountain systems were working well.
On days 2 and 3, the whole team: Dan, Jessica, Robyn, the nurses and Dr. Toledo visited a new community far in the mountains: Laguna y Centro. The community leader Felipe Diaz met them in Camotan and showed them the way to this far away community with great need. They saw so much extreme poverty and hunger. They started numerous patients on blood pressure and diabetes medications that they can have followed down the mountain in Camotan Clinic for long term care. The team also sent patients down to the clinic for further imaging and for referrals for surgeries like hernias and similar. Without the clinic being present, most of these patients would never get medical care. It is the goal of Camotan Clinic to establish care in as many new villages as possible all while keeping track of the other villages we have already seen. It is a detailed job keeping track of which patients live in each village and what their exact needs are. Sometimes we find very dangerous illnesses on our mountain clinics; infections that will kill a person, heart issues that need urgent care and much more. We try to get everyone care but sometimes the patients choose to stay on the mountain and not pursue care. That is hard for us but we respect every person we care for and their autonomy. Our job is to offer help. And we will make sure those that get help get good follow up. We will pay for transportation for these patients and Dr. Toledo usually calls around the country asking for help if a sub-specialist is needed.
Dan Humer, PA seeing patients in Languna y Centro
On day 4 the team went to the highest mountain village they have ever visited. It was a treacherous road and then a steep hike. What was most humbling was meeting the women of the community. The women worked together and cared for their kids as if they were one big family. The remoteness of the village forced collaboration amongst everyone there. We found a lot of hunger in this village. It is so sad when these people tell us their biggest need is food. It is something we have been hearing more and more since the pandemic. As we have written about, the pandemic hurt many in Guatemala financially. And in these most remote villages where money is scarce, it has been harder for people to buy food. Add to this climate change -drought that lasts longer than it should, rains that come all at once- and it becomes harder to grow crops for those who are just subsistence farmers. Many people living in the remote villages tell us how much harder it is to grow corn compared to 10 years ago.
Robyn holds a child in the remote village on day 4.
As Camotan Clinic has grown, we have learned to collaborate with numerous organizations in Guatemala. As we have written several times already, the Guatemalan people care very much about the people living high in the mountains around Camotan. However not many of them are able to help financially or make the long trip to this remote section of Guatemala. Fortunately one way that many organizations and people in Guatemala are able to help us is with food donations. We partner with existing foundations in Guatemala to help get food to the communities that need it most. One of our goals is to streamline the process from food donations-often in Guatemala City- to the remote mountain villages near Camotan. Much more on this in the future. Health cannot be achieved without adequate nutrition.
A big thank you to those of you who donate, support and pray for this mission. It is an honor to have your support. We know that we could not do what we do –even if that is just delivering food–without you.
Much more to come in 2023!
Thank you all for reading.