March 2023 trip

Our March 2023 trip from the US was a time of growth and collaboration. The US team included many return providers. Dr. Blake Parsons (below, 2nd from R), Jennifer Parsons, PA, Jessica Meyers, NP and Dr. Joel Strohecker all attended. Dr. Parsons also brought his family with him to help the wonderful people of Camotan (see below).

Dr. Parsons, 2nd from R along with some residents of a mountain village; Dr. Parson’s daughter Izzy is in the middle, 4th from L.

Like many of our trips, we take mobile medical teams far into the mountains above Camotan each day to mountain villages. The clinic in Camotan is always open and staffed as well. It serves as a home base for our medications, supplies, clinical charts, wifi access, and much more. From the well stocked and staffed clinic we leave each morning with truck loads of medicines and food into the mountains. Villages are up to an hour away and on very treacherous roads. In a typical day during a mountain village visit we see 100-200 patients. As we have noted in other blogs, those with complex issues are then referred down to Camotan Clinic.

Jennifer Parsons, PA (2nd from L) and our translator Celeste (L) caring for a family in a remote village.

Sometimes there are immediate emergencies. On one day of our trip we had a very sick 2 month old baby come to our mountain clinic. The mother had no resources and was trying to take care of her baby at home. The level of illness was recognized immediately by our team. Although we were an hour from a paved road, we sent the baby and its mother in a truck down the mountain emergently. The baby was immediately received in the Intensive Care Unit of the public hospital in Chiquimula, the closest hospital. That baby survived but needed days of antibiotics and care. The mother had no money so we paid for her food and care at the hospital as well. Had we not been present that day, the baby would assuredly have died. This is a common occurrence for us. Our teams identify an emergent need and quickly take action to save a life. It is why we are here, in these mountains, doing this work.

It takes a lot of workers in Guatemala for us to to what we do. The infant in the story above needed someone to drive her to the hospital, talk to local hospital officials and make sure her mother understood the gravity of the situation. We have talked before about our full time staff of nurses, secretaries and dental assistants. But it takes so much more to run a functioning clinic. From translators like Celeste in the picture above to Sami in the picture below, each trip is a collaboration of Guatemalans and Americans. It is this coming together, this time spent working hard together that is so meaningful for all of us. The relationships we build with our Guatemalan counterparts is a big reason we love coming back so often. We work hard together but then share dinner, laughs, stories, family pictures and more. At night after dinner we usually play a bilingual game which engenders even more laughing and fun. We are bound by our common love of the country of Guatemala, the beautiful people and the beautiful land.

Sami, our local do it all (handyman, chaffeur and much more) and his son Johan and wife Judi.

Our goals for 2023 remain to secure our foundation status in Guatemala and possibly purchase land to build a larger clinic on. We have been navigating the legal system in Guatemala for the past 3 years to formally become a legal Fundacion. Unlike the US where a non profit can be established fairly simply with paperwork and government approval, in Guatemala the process is laborious and the bookkeeping needs to be immaculate or the government will revoke non profit status. Additionally there are several levels of non profit status. The lowest levels are easy to obtain but do not grant full control or legal recognition in the country. For this reason, we have been on the journey for several years to secure the highest level of recognized non profit status in Guatemala. We have just been approved of that status. Thanks to the hard work of Dr. Toledo and our lawyers, we now can now proceed with growing as a Fundacion with fully recognized status in Guatemala. It is a big step for us and will open many doors in the future.

Izzy and Macie–Jennifer and Dr. Blake Parson’s daughters working in a mountain pharmacy

So thank you to all of you who have taken this journey with us for all of these years. And thank you again to everyone who reads these blogs and cares about this mission. We are grateful for all of you. Thank you for reading!

We make lots of friends in each village

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