Jan 2, 2018

What 2017 meant for Guatemalans in need

Patients during triage
Patients during triage

As 2018 begins, we would like to look back at 2017 and be grateful for every achievement that was made possible through the generosity of our donors and the support of our volunteers.

In 2017, we:

  • brought in 12 surgical teams
  • performed 501 surgeries
  • organized 5 mobile medical missions
  • evaluated 2377 patients
  • found 806 surgical candidates
  • screened 2994 women for cervical cancer, resulting in the treatment of 75 women
  • evaluated 730 women for breast cancer
  • helped nourish 286 children through our Cleft Infant Nutrition Program
  • reached over 2,000 women in our sessions on preventive care and early detection education

A special focus on women

Cervical and breast cancer are two of the greatest causes of suffering and loss among poor rural families in Guatemala. Cervical cancer ranks as the most frequent type of cancer, while breast cancer comes in second among women in Guatemala.

Partner for Surgery has been working closely with its Guatemalan counterpart, Asociación Compañero para Cirugía (ACPC), to reduce cervical and breast cancer morbidity and mortality by ensuring access to comprehensive and high-quality screening, follow-up, treatment, and education services.

Mobile medical missions

These missions, staffed by international medical volunteers and with ACPC staff and health promoters, provided health services to Guatemalans in the most remote areas of the country.

Trusted and appreciated in the villages, the ACPC staff and health promoters accompanied the medical professionals and helped with English/Spanish translations and/or indigenous dialects.

Surgical missions

Patients identified in mobile medical missions, patients from the Cleft Infant Nutrition Program, and others identified by ACPC Health Promoters were scheduled to receive needed surgery from teams of volunteer medical professionals from Canada and the United States organized by PfS/ACPC and from groups organized by Hospital Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro.

Operations were performed at Hospital Niño Jesús and Hospital Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro in Antigua Guatemala.

PfS/ACPC staff coordinated the transportation, lodging, meals, laboratories, etc. of patients traveling for surgery. Each patient was always escorted by a health promoter who helped with translations to local dialects and who provided all the support needed during the surgical weeks and after.

What comes next

Above all, we want to continue helping change the lives of rural Guatemalans through medical care. We touched thousands of lives in 2017, and we can only hope to touch thousands more in the following months. From infant to elder, every individual should have the chance to make the most of their lives in good health, and if we have the opportunity to provide that, we will.

We wish you a wonderful new year.

One of our medical missions cheerful team
One of our medical missions cheerful team
Puerto Rico students also took part in a mission
Puerto Rico students also took part in a mission


Oct 11, 2017

Why we must follow up


Patient stories


Keila is a nine-year-old who attended our rural mission day a couple of months ago at the National Hospital in La Tinta.

Born with a cleft lip and palate, Keila was three when her mother took her to a hospital at Retalhuleu to repair her cleft lip. Unfortunately, there was no follow up and no organization to help her receive corrective surgery for her cleft palate.

Two years ago, teeth started to grow and come out through her upper lip, for which she received ridicule from other children, forcing her to use a cloth to cover her face in public.

We have already scheduled Keila to have both maxillofacial and cleft palate surgery by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia team coming to Guatemala this month. As part of our support, she will be escorted to and from the hospital site and provided with post-operative assistance.

Keila wants to go back to school without feeling embarrassed and eventually become a teacher. Through our assistance we will be helping to make her dreams come true.


Yesenia is a girl from Totonicapan who was part of our nutritional program. Three years ago, we did her lip and palate surgeries, but she still has a small opening in her palate that will be corrected this month.

Thanks to her timely initial surgeries and our speech therapy, Yesenia can speak very well. Our health promoter, Migdalia, who visited her every month for 2 years, told us "I feel like she is one of my own, I love her and love seeing her happy and healthy".

Thanks to our donors, friends, partners and incredible volunteers like Migdalia, "happy and healthy" are two words that we are able to put together for many of our patients.

Upcoming surgical missions

On October 31 and November 7, 2017, our Guatemalan based counterpart, Asociación Compañero Para Cirugía, will be evaluating patients at no cost in Antigua Guatemala for the next surgical rounds. 

Previous missions

Between June 1st and August 31, 2017, the Faces of Hope team was able to perform 32 cleft lip and 17 cleft palate surgeries, among other procedures.

Our cleft infant nutrition program

Between June 1st and August 31, 2017, we had 218 children enrolled in our cleft infant nutrition program. This program helps children gain weight and strength prior to surgery.

To help our nutrition program, we also created an amazon wish list with a much-needed item: manual breast pumps. These pumps help children born with a cleft lip and palate receive all the nutrition they need without having to resort to formula, which can cost as much as $600 per child. Paired with feeding bottles, breast pumps provide a cost-effective option prior to surgery.

We have received several breast pumps already, which are being taken in person to Guatemala and reaching the mothers in need.

Thank you 

We feel absolutely honored and privileged to continue to receive so much support for our work. As we look at the struggles taking place in so many regions at the same time, we are grateful for the opportunity to be part of a team that is able to help so many in need in rural Guatemala.

We wish you health and happiness.

Yesenia and Migdalia
Yesenia and Migdalia


Oct 4, 2017

Our July-August medical mission

Health promoters, volunteers and Zoila
Health promoters, volunteers and Zoila's family

During Partner for Surgery’s last rural triage mission, which took place between July and August, the team embarked on a home visit to Zoila and her children. The youngest, Angel, in his mother’s arms, was born with a cleft lip and palate. He is recovering nicely from lip surgery and we are planning to do his palate in October. Meanwhile, he is in our nutrition program and Marta, our health promoter, is responsible for visiting the family each month. 

Zoila has been struggling to support her home without the help of the children’s father. The six of them sleep in one small room with just one bed.

Raul, Zoila’s father, was able to give his daughter a little piece of land with a few avocado trees and bread fruit, where they also grow corn and beans to eat. Zoila has been cleaning houses and doing laundry for $10 a week, when she can find work.

A lovely return

Our rural mission was also happily greeted by a returning patient, Felisa, who came to us in 2016 with a hernia.

Since her surgery, Felisa has been feeling great and is able to work again.

“I would be dead by now if it wasn’t for you. You helped me immediately. You covered my personal expenses and gave me the surgery I needed. I had the hernia for 15 years and did not find the help I needed. At the local hospital they used to tell me that I was old and not worth helping, but you did. I thank you and everybody who came across to make it possible.”

We feel honored to have helped Felisa overcome her hernia.

Wish list

In September we launched our first amazon wish list. This list, updated as needed, gives donors a more tactile option to help families in Guatemala, by showing exactly what the donation will be used for.

We launched the list with the most needed item, manual breast pumps. These pumps help children born with a cleft lip and palate receive all the nutrition they needed without having to resort to formula, which can cost as much as $600 per child. Paired with feeding bottles, breast pumps provide a cost-effective option prior to surgery.

Visiting Canada

Our director of operations, Ariel, is visiting Vancouver and Victoria, in Canada, meeting with hospitals and surgical team representatives about recruiting more volunteers for our upcoming missions.

Our progress in numbers

Between June 1st and August 31, 2017, we:

  • evaluated 811 patients
  • identified 223 surgical candidates
  • performed 137 surgeries
  • screened 784 women for cervical cancer
  • treated 12 women for our cervical cancer prevention program
  • screened 124 women for breast cancer
Felisa and Marta, our health promoter
Felisa and Marta, our health promoter


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