Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dec. 29, 2012 Katie Scheidler

Greetings again!

Yes, again. My journey to Guatemala all started less than two years ago. If you know me, that is hard to believe. Less than two years! This year I am kicking off the blog from my warm bed in Cincinnati at 4:00 a.m. Our amazing team is about to embark on a new journey. Abie, the medical team, and I have all been to Patanatic before, but this journey will be new.

I am so blessed to be returning to this small and welcoming community in the western highlands of Guatemala. Our Mayan friends have graciously allowed me to return for a third time. This trip is special to me because my role is entirely new. On my first trip as a participant on this very important medical mission, I discovered hope amid a world in poverty. On my second trip, I became part of a Guatemalan family and learned, though my family lives in poverty, they do live...and beautifully! And now, I have the honor of helping organize the very trip that stole my heart just two years ago.

While I have no sweeping beautiful remarks about the breathtaking view in Patanatic or a startling realization from the abject poverty, I can promise you that the words you read from the participants will represent love pouring from their hearts. Breathe in their words and let the students open your eyes. For we must “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”


Dec. 28, 2012 - A World of Need

On Nov 7, a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck near Guatemala's border with Mexico. It was the strongest to hit Guatemala since a 1976 quake that killed 23,000. Damage was reported in all but one of Guatemala's 22 states and shaking felt as far away as Mexico City, 600 miles to the northwest. At least 52 are dead and dozens missing. President Otto Perez Molina said the quake affected as many as 1.2 million people. There were 70 aftershocks in the first 24 hours after the quake, some as strong as magnitude 4.9. Guatemalans huddled in the streets of the mountain town of San Marcos, the most affected area, where at least 40 of the deaths occurred. San Marcos is a poor, mainly indigenous mountain area of subsistence farms, where more than 30 homes were damaged and many of the colorful adobe buildings in its center were either cracked or reduced to rubble, including the police station and the courthouse. A large gash runs down one of the streets. Hundreds of frightened people refused to go back inside after more than five strong aftershocks. Hundreds crammed into the hallways of San Marcos' small hospital, the only building with electricity, seeking help for the injured. Some complained they were not getting care quickly enough, but there is just not enough staff. Perez said more than 2,000 soldiers were deployed to help and a plane made trips to carry relief teams to the area.

The Xavier Interfaith Medical Mission Team has been asked to spend Friday in San Marcos with its medical team, and help with their medical needs. Since they will be there just short of the two-month anniversary, they will not see the major trauma of the first days, but the community is still in ruin. They will bring their medical supplies and expertise to San Marcos, and have also purchased basic sanitary needs (toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, etc.), and rice, beans, sugar, and cooking oil for distribution to the families.

“This is a huge request and a privilege for us to be helpful to that community at this time of severe need,” said Rabbi Abie Ingber, executive director of the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement at Xavier University, and the organizer of the trip. “It will not be easy – a three-hour drive each way to see 50 adult patients and 30 children. Everything we learn during the week will make our time in San Marcos even more productive. Each student participant was selected because they could be counted on to lead – and now they must.”

Dec 27, 2012 Background and Introductions

From Dec. 29, 2012 – Jan. 6, 2013, thirteen Xavier students and a staffer from the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement will give up a week of winter break and New Year’s Eve celebrations to serve the village of Patanatik in the Solola Lake mountain region.. A doctor/nurse couple from Los Angeles and a Cincinnati pediatrician will join them on the 2013 Interfaith Medical Mission to Guatemala.

This will be the fourth such trip for Xavier students. In January of 2010, the first mission trip sent a similar group to Jamaica. In 4.5 days, they saw 511 patients among old slave huts in remote regions of Steer Town, Jamaica. Most had never received any medical care and six were evacuated to a hospital for immediate attention. In the last two years, they have found similar need in Guatemala. They saw almost 500 people in the clinic and made 75-100 home visits each year.

These are the students you will hear from on this blog:

Kiersten Mossburg from Fayetteville, GA is a junior chemical science major with minors in biochemistry and English.

Tess Petrozzi from Powell, OH is a sophomore nursing major.

Ashley Luffred from Avon, OH is a junior liberal arts major, with a minor in psychology.

Grace Lambert from North Royalton, OH is a sophomore natural sciences major, with a minor in theology.

Adrian Center from Mason, OH is a first-year biology major.

Malia Smolenski from Loveland, OH is a junior applied physics major, with minors in Spanish and international studies.

Stephanie Jantzen from Cincinnati is a senior biology major.

Ian Bentley from Cincinnati is a senior biology major, with minors in chemistry and theology.

Sara Fieger from Cincinnati is a sophomore natural sciences major.

Tom Gerbus from Cincinnati is a junior biology major, with minors in chemistry and theology.

C.J. Oleksy from Martinsville, IN is a sophomore business major, with a minor in natural sciences.

Julia Miles from Indianapolis is a junior biology major.

Katie Scheidler from Muncie, IN is the program assistant and trip coordinator. She is a senior biology major, with minors in chemistry and peace studies.

The care is free, but the trip is not. The group needs $50,000 to fly, feed and house the team for the trip. Tax-deductible donations may be sent to Xavier University, Center for Interfaith Community Engagement, 3800 Victory Parkway ML 2120, Cincinnati, OH 45207. Please make checks payable to Xavier University - IFCE.