Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Day 1 - Remarkable

On this first day, a very excited team travelled 30 minutes outside of Guatemala City to the rural community of San Pedro Ayampuc. By the time we got off the bus at 9 a.m., hundreds of people were already in line. Toothless grandmothers clasped the hands of their grandchildren while young mothers bounced squirming babies on their hips – each one eager to see the Canadian doctors and dentists that waved as they got off the bus.

The team quickly found their spots and began treating patients. By 6 p.m. 789 people had been seen by medical staff, and 90 people had received dental treatment from our two dentists. Below are some stories from a very remarkable first day.

Twenty month old baby – gun shot wound and parasites
This little guy arrived in the arms of his young mother with abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. A kind paramedic examined him and his incredible story of survival unfolds. One month ago while being held by his father in a local store, a robbery took place and a bullet was fired. The bullet killed his father and miraculously passed through his small body without hitting any organs. The sad eyes of his 23rd old mother, now alone with 2 small children, pierced many hearts today. However, the gift of warm hugs, medicine, vitamins, food, and new clothing for her children went a long way to show this young woman that she is not alone – there are people who care.

Five year old boy – fillings for his teeth
He hides behind the strong arm of his father knowing that this big man will not leave his side. As I fill out his patient dental sheet, I ask his father if he has any health concerns. His father’s sad eyes speak louder than his words and I soon learn that this chubby little boy has lymphoma. His father tells me I will never know how much he has suffered and I let the tears fall as I tell him about my own granddaughter’s battle with stage 4 cancer. We weep together for just a moment – knowing that we share a bond of understanding as we trust God for continued miracles. I gently lead Kevin over to Dr. Jack – knowing that this doctor’s cheerful banter and mispronounced Spanish words will bring a smile to these two faces that deserve so much.

Dr. Jack gives Kevin a new ball and I run for another toy as Dr. Jack fires up the drill and gently begins his work. I stroke Kevin’s chubby hand knowing that today this darling child and his father have both received much more than beautiful teeth – they have received kindness and hope to face as many tomorrows as they have together.

Nine year old boy – heart trouble
He arrives at the clinic with an elderly neighbour who tells the doctor that he has heart trouble. The doctor is at once concerned and begins a thorough examination in search of heart irregularities. After finding nothing, he questions the elderly lady and she begins to explain that his father died a few months ago, and that recently his mother abandoned him, leaving in her wake a boy with a very broken heart. Things become clear and the concerned Canadian doctor speaks gently to the boy telling him he is sorry – his eyes tell this sweet child that he can only imagine how his heart must really feel. There are no words to describe this kind of pain and each team member wishes they could scoop him up and take him home. But…he is one of many hurting children and at best all that we offer is a warm smile, a hug, and some vitamins – momentary solutions that give him the courage he needs to follow his neighbour lady home in search of a cure for his broken heart.

Young woman – kidney failure
She receives dialysis three days per week, and has a donor who will give her a kidney but she cannot afford the surgery. Dr. Tony does what he can for her but he knows that time is not on her side, and that we must find a way to help this young woman get the surgery that she needs in order to live and together we will.

These are just a few of the reasons that motivate us to wake up in the morning at 5 a.m. to do it again tomorrow in the community of Saxsui, where we are anticipating the arrival of 1000 people.

Thank you for your support of this trip and of this organization that really does Feed The Children in so many more ways than one.

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