Saturday, March 1, 2008

Day 4 - Relief

After a day of rest yesterday, our team was back to work and headed to San Guayaba, which is another community in the region of Palencia. As our bus moves through the city toward the mountains, young women sweep the streets with homemade brooms while groups of young men plant trees along the roadside and climb ladders to trim hedges that grow above 10 foot walls. All around us people are beginning their day and a refreshed team is excited about who they will meet in San Guayaba.

Once again we climbed the winding mountain roads with clouds of dust billowing behind the bus. We are surrounded by mountains as we climb to an altitude of 2500 meters where 800 people are waiting for relief from toothaches, ulcers and blood sugars that are so high they will not even register on our glucometers. Nurse Anna Jewell starts two IV’s to help with hydration while Paramedic Glen Canavan cleans an ulcerated wound that has become infected. Nurses and paramedics look into sore throats and ears and send patients to the pharmacy where they will receive medicine to take home.

Pharmacist Chris Ritskes and his team meet each evening after dinner to package more of the vitamins donated by caring Canadians to the children of Guatemala. Nurse Charlene Dart’s sister, Karen Dallas, wanted to do something to help the children of Guatemala and so she became creative with the unit on money for her grade three class at Dr. MacGillvary School in Courtrice, Ontario. Through a coin drive, this class raised $330.00 which purchased 186 bottles of children’s vitamins that have already been distributed to some very needy children.

To date, our pharmacy has distributed more than 5000 vitamins, 500 doses of Ibuprofen and/or Acetaminophen, and hundreds of antibiotics and parasite medications. The pharmacy team works non-stop and the line seems never ending. However, at the end of the day, this team knows that they have distributed much more than vitamins and antibiotics taken home in small plastic bags – they have dispensed kindness and brought relief to more than 2000 people in some of Guatemala’s poorest communities.

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