Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Beautiful Way to Wake Up

It is amazing to think that a few short months ago, I received the phone call saying that I would be one of the twelve students that would be travelling to Guatemala over Spring Break. This was really exciting news as this is something that I have wanted to do and experience. 

Over the next few months, we all met, fundraised, and bonded. I could not have asked for a better and more loving group as we all go on this wonderful journey together. During the months leading up to the trip, we heard from several different students that were once in our shoes and about their amazing time here in Guatemala. This only added to the excitement as we prepared for this adventure. 

When we arrive to the clinic on Sunday afternoon, it was not at all how I pictured it to be. After seeing pictures and hearing stories from the past, I created this picture in my mind of the clinic. The vans all dropped us off at the bottom of this steep mountainside where we would then walk up a little bit to reach the clinic. The view from the clinic was the first thing that caught my eye as it was absolutely breathtaking. You stood at the entrance of the clinic and to the left, in the distance, you could see the lake and one the right was beautiful mountain sides full of hard working Guatemalan families working on their terrace farms. It is amazing to think that in America, this piece of land with such a beautiful landscape would cost millions. 

After setting up the clinic, it was time for our first patients. On Sunday afternoon, I was in the glasses clinic, where I was able help individuals be fitted for a new pair of glasses. It was amazing to be in the glasses clinic as one woman I help started with 20/70 vision, barely able to see anything. After fitting her with glasses, we was then able to see 20/20 and her face lit up with a smile. It was really unique to have the experience with her and it is one that I will never forget. On Monday, at the clinic, I first started off in the prayer room. At first I was really nervous as my Spanish is minimal and I was supposed to read a prayer with the patients in Spanish. However, after some practice, I was able to improve my Spanish enough that it could be understood. It was amazing to be able to pray with the patients and to hear their own prayers afterward. Even though, I started off really nervous, it ended up to be a wonderful morning.

In the afternoon, I was in triage, which I was excited about since I was familiar with taking blood pressures and graphing children on growth curves. I really enjoyed my time in triage as we were slow and therefore able to really get to know each patient. I also had the opportunity to play soccer with some of the children in our free time, which we all enjoyed. There was one girl in particular, that never left my side and so we often sat and colored. Even though I could not communicate with her in full sentences, I was able to still get to know her and had a lot of fun with her.

As it was five o’clock, it was time to pack up the clinic for the day and this gave us some time before dinner to explore the town we have been living in for the past few days in the daytime. It was really interesting to walk around the street and see all of the Guatemala clothes, purses, book bags, etc. However, I quickly learned that you cannot wander around and just look at an item. As soon as you showed some interest, the owner would then grab everything that was similar for you to look at and would not stop until you bought something. Fortunately, I had Stephanie who has been a huge help in translating, I don’t think that I could survive this week without her.

Last night was a great night to relax a little bit and take in the true beauty that surrounded me. As today was the third day at the clinic, the days keep getting better and better. I started off the morning in prayer again, but was able to shadow and observe Dr. Lauri and she worked with the children. When we get back to Cincinnati, I will be starting my Pediatric rotation, so it was really exciting for me to learn all about the population and some little tricks that help when doing assessments on children. She is a wonderful doctor and really enjoys working with the children which really shows in her actions and her personality. In the afternoon, I was in the pharmacy, helping to count and dispense medications for the patients.

Overall, it has been a great learning experience and I cannot wait for tomorrow when we head across the lake to San Pedro for some more visits. I have quickly discovered that there is not a more beautiful way to wake up than to wake up in Guatemala knowing that you are going to meet and help some amazing people. I am so grateful for my experience so far and I don’t want to leave this wonderful place where everyone is some kind and wonderful.

Becka Hartman
March 4, 2014

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