Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Micayla McGinn – Finding Myself

Micayla is a senior majoring in Occupational Therapy with a minor in gender and diversity studies. She is from Plattsburgh, NY
Wow, this is hard to put it into words, but what an amazing day! I was exhausted, but felt so alive! I started my day with a gorgeous run down by the Lake Atitlan and up along the river toward Patanatic. The views were incredible. The people were friendly and greeted me with “buenos dias” or “hola” and a smile. I was surprised by how accepting the people were of us, they welcomed us into their community and their homes without reservation. I even had a warm shower. What a treat!
Friday, we headed across the lake to San Pedro to conduct more home visits. The sun was bright and the lake was calm. I felt like I was at home on Lake Champlain. It’s a tragedy that such a beautiful place has been polluted. We spent our day visiting homes to check water filters and provide medical care. Nurse Cathy and team 3 are fantastic, but so is our entire Team Xavier. I don’t think there could be a more passionate, patient, understanding, or fun group than ours. It was exciting and fulfilling to show up in individuals’ homes and help alleviate their pain. Everyone was extremely appreciative. We met a young man who, by the look on his face, was in agony with extreme leg pain, a woman with shoulder pain, and an elderly woman almost in tears with sciatic nerve pain. The pain, tiredness, and bodies aged beyond their years reflect the physically demanding life. We met a woman with an upper respiratory infection that had been going on for months. Sadly, this is reality for most within this community. A cold or pain that we in the United States would tolerate for only days, or hours, before turning to a pain killer or the doctor, often goes untreated and lingers for months or years here. Hopefully this will begin to change as the clinic continues to grow and establish itself within the community.
The children were adorable with their energy and smiles. We made eye contact and with the innocent, curious spark in their eyes they grabbed my heart. They have so little materially, yet are surrounded with so much love. The children were amazed by our cameras and soaked up our attention and touch. It was as if the language barrier dissolved as we played. They followed us from house to house and were welcomed in their neighbors’ homes as if they were their own children.
At times it was overwhelming and I felt like we were only skimming the surface, but I remind myself that if only for a moment, a day, or a month, we have been a positive influence in these individuals’ lives, and they have forever changed mine. The people have incredible resilience. I will always remember their smiles and “Gracias.” The people have broadened my perspective, reminded me that love, empathy, and respect are what are truly important, and have shown me that the giving of my time and talents can be powerful both in helping others and in finding myself.
We went to nine houses in record time and were disappointed when we were told that we had finished our list. We were on a roll and found it hard to accept since there are so many families which could have benefitted from our care that remained unseen. However, upon our return, the school became a makeshift clinic as the community teachers who had led us through their villages brought in their own families to be seen by Dr. Lauri and Dr. Richard.
We ended our day with shopping and a wonderful Shabbat dinner. Another amazing day in Guatemala!

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