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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


Jul 12, 2017

Our Cleft Infant Nutrition Program

Astrid, before and after
Astrid, before and after
Partner for Surgery helps provide medical care to many children and their families, but there is one particular program that we are very proud of: Cleft Infant Nutrition Program.
Through this unique program, we accomplish three major goal by preventing:
  1. Malnutrition, so the child will thrive and qualify for surgery;
  2. Speech impediment, by providing cleft palate surgery before the child reaches the age of one and a half;
  3. Ostracization with the community of family and child.
With around 165 children enrolled in the program at any given time, it is vital that Partner for Surgery continues to raise funds to provide all the care needed for these children. A single month of life saving nutrition to one cleft infant costs $35 in Guatemala.
Our impact in Guatemala has become quite noticeable. In the past, almost all the infants with clefts were first seen at our rural medical missions. Now, over 85% are referrals from government medical personnel and community midwives, which means the infants remain in better health and can qualify for surgery earlier than before.
During the Workshop in Congenital Malformations led by the George Washington University/Milken Institute of Public Health, and held at the Universidad Rafael Landívar  on June 2016 in Guatemala, many presentations indicated that inadequate micronutrients in the diet of newly pregnant mothers is an important factor in formation of cleft defects. Now we are studying the possibility of adding a fourth prevention element: education. This effort would focus on educating children in school on how better food preparation and nutrition can reduce cleft anomalies.
In the next few days, Faces of Hope will join us in Guatemala to help provide surgery to dozens of cleft patients who are ready to leave the nutrition program and move to the next step of their life changing journey.
Elda, before and after
Elda, before and after
Orlando, before and after
Orlando, before and after
Playtime after surgery
Playtime after surgery
ACPC, our Guatemalan counterpart
ACPC, our Guatemalan counterpart


Jun 29, 2017

Our accomplishments in Guatemala and the lives we help change

Linda, one of our volunteers
Linda, one of our volunteers

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.

Juan, before and after his surgery
Juan, before and after his surgery
Sandra, in the middle, and our volunteers
Sandra, in the middle, and our volunteers


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