Thursday, February 28, 2008

Day 3 - Restoration

After two 14 hour plus days, our team is exhausted and several are plagued with colds, headaches, and Montezuma’s revenge. Paramedic Glen Canavan started an IV on the bus, for one of the team members who was dehydrated after fighting the stomach flu for several hours.

With the IV bag hanging from the bus window, we journeyed for two hours up to the mountainous community of Primera Joya. Dirt roads curled upward incessantly it seemed, until we reached an altitude of 2200 meters to our destination. Nestled in between lush farm plots on the side of this mountain, was a small school where we would work today. In this area, farmers harvest carrots, potatoes, and a local vegetable called wiskil which is something like a squash.

We were greeted by Mayor Beto with hugs and words of thanks for helping the needy people in his community. Toothless grins and pats on the back encouraged us as we got off the bus to face yet another large crowd. 650 people had walked to the school carrying babies and elderly parents to receive desperately needed medical/dental care from our team. Doctors, nurses, and paramedics treated everything from parasites & scabies to high blood pressure & diabetes. Newborn babies who had never seen a doctor were examined and held tenderly for an extra moment or two before they were re-wrapped and put inside the cocoon wound tightly around the neck of their mother. Most of the women and children have chronic coughs due to the inside fires used for cooking and for heat, and so along with vitamins and parasite medications, our pharmacy workers dispensed a lot of cough medicine.

Today, our dentist, Dr. Jack Cottrell, did some minor mouth surgery and some orthodontic work. He and Dr. Mimi, a lovely dentist working with us this week, removed more teeth than we could count and they filled as many other teeth as possible. We soon discovered that most do not own a toothbrush and so we distributed them along with toothpaste and instructions for them to simply brush their teeth in order to save them.

By the end of this day instead of feeling more drained, our team seemed to feel restored. Colds, headaches, and the stomach flu had all been treated with medication and our spirits soared as we realized the impact we had on these brown eyed farmers and their families who daily endure cold (from the high altitude) sickness, and a level of poverty in tin shacks that is unimaginable. These people live off the land that seems unforgiving at times, but they are hard workers and so generations continue to survive. Not only did our team bring restoration today – we left restored with the faces from Primera Joya clearly etched in our minds.

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