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.
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.
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:
We frequently hear from our donors that they are amazed at how much Partner for Surgery has been able to accomplish in Guatemala. And yes, we are very proud of the many thousands of people we have provided with medical care but we have not done it alone. In 2008, Partner for Surgery started a Guatemalan partner organization, Associación Compañero para Cirugía (ACPC), with the intent of Guatemalans eventually leading all the day to day activities. Together, we have now become the pre-eminent organization providing health and medical care in many of the Guatemalan rural communities.
An indicator of success can be seen in the significant increase of government medical personnel and community midwives in the referral of newborns with cleft anomalies to our Cleft Infant Nutrition Program. Several years ago, almost all the infants with clefts were first seen at our rural medical missions. Now, over 85% are referrals, which means the infants remain in better health and can qualify for surgery earlier than before.
We are currently looking for both medical and non-medical volunteers for our week long rural medical missions. During the week we visit four villages, numerous Mayan homes and also include a cultural day in the area. These missions provide a unique personal look into the life of rural Mayan communities which have a cultural history of almost 3,500 years. Please let us know if you have an interest in more information such as activities, dates and costs.
Below we would like to share a couple of patient stories and how with the help of proper medical care we were able to change their lives.
Three years ago, Juan looked for help from the national health system after a mass began to form on his neck and face, however he was told that nothing could be done. Living in a very hot area, he would wear a hoodie everyday in order to cover the mass, but he would still get bullied, significantly lowering his self-steem.
In June 2016, we identified him during one of our rural missions, and a surgery was scheduled with a neck specialist from Cape Breton. In the following surgical mission in February 2017, Juan's mass was removed, and so was his hoodie.
Juan simply could not believe the before and after pictures we showed him. A few weeks later, he called us and told us how much we were able to change his life. He found himself a job and a girlfriend.
All he needed for a life change was the opportunity to receive proper health care.
Sandra visited us because she felt several lumps on her breasts. Before visiting us, she was scared after she was told she could have breast cancer, and her mind was set that she would not be able to overcome this.
We encouraged her during her visit and asked her to let us help her the best way we knew. We had recently started a breast cancer program with a high focus on education and help with surgeries when needed.
Sandra's pathologies were clean and her lumps were removed during our February surgical mission. She thanked us for giving her another chance in life.