After the last day in the clinic, so many emotions are running through me. A journey that started only four days ago, will challenge my life from here on out. On the very first day, during one of our times of group reflection, Dr. Lauri mentioned something that stuck with me for this whole trip. She said that an experience like this will ruin your life forever but in the best way possible. Now at first my group was kind of confused and for good reason but after a great explanation it all clicked. After seeing all the people in the clinic and in Patanatic in general, it is impossible to go back home the same person with the same state of mind especially when it comes to material objects. Coming to Guatemala isn't only to learn how to spell pharmacy drugs or to hear wheezing during breath sounds, though so much wisdom was learned, it is about so much more. It is about making the effort to get to know the people being treated.
This concept became very concrete yesterday during our home filtration group tour. This was where a group of us and a translator went out into the village to inspect that condition of the water filters in each house. This gave all of us a great opportunity to understand exactly how the people we saw every day in the clinic were living. There was a wide range of wealth based on their houses. Some houses were very nice with brand new appliances and new tile floors on the other hand in the same region of the village there were houses that had an incredible about of flies with open entries without doors. On our way up to one of the patches of houses there was this older man sitting on one of the stairs leading up to the houses. We tried to quickly walk past him to get to the houses. What I noticed while we walked past him was that he didn't move in the slightest to allow us to get around him; he also had a few flies that had landed on his arm. He wore an old flannel and a pair of old jeans. It looked like he had been sitting in the sun that whole day.
On our way back down from the houses, we noticed that he was in the same position as before. I grabbed my water from my backpack and gave it to him. He quickly looked up and said thank you. I thought that would be the last time that we would see him. For the rest of the day, the image of him sitting on the stairs was ingrained in my head. Today in the clinic started like all the other days with patients eagerly waiting for triage and their appointment. Then Caroline came in from Dr. Richard's office and told me that the same man that we had seen the day before was in the prayer room. She said that she could hardly recognize him and that I had to see it for myself. I was working in the pharmacy this morning; so we quickly filled his prescriptions and waited for him. He looked like a completely different person. He had a nice clothes on, a straw hat, and a wonderful smile. His name was Manuel and his story will always give me chills.
As the week comes to a close I have gained a different perspective on my life and how I want to live it in the future. I am so grateful for this experience and for the incredible people rather friends that I have made on this trip. I have learned so much insight not only from the staff on our team but also from my peers; however, most importantly the people of Patanatic. I am so appreciative for this experience and no amount of thank you's will be able to suffice for this trip. Though, we fundraised and brought medical supplies nothing that we gave the people of Patanatic will never repay what they gave to each of us.