It's been almost 36 hours of being in this unbelievably uplifting community that is Patanatic. Driving through the villages yesterday and looking out the van window seeing a mother carry gallons of water on her head as her two sons and daughter followed behind each carrying sacs of corn the size of each of them, I immediately could sense the compassion the Guatemalan people have for one another. Yesterday, we arrived at the clinic in the afternoon and I got to work in pharmacy. At first I was overwhelmed being in a new environment and having to find and give out medications that I could not pronounce nor write, but with pharmacist Eric and Dakota's teamwork we all worked together and delivered medication to patients who were extremely grateful for us helping them with their health care. This morning, I helped children and their mothers learn how to properly brush their teeth. Sadly, many of the children do not brush their teeth regularly and it was surprising to see so many young children with rotted teeth and cavities just because they were never educated that oral health is so important especially in childhood development. However, after we brushed our teeth together many of the children and mothers were smiling and I knew that with time these patients will not have to worry about having many of the oral issues that they do now, and that was extremely gratifying for me.
This afternoon I had an encounter with a 12 year old boy and his 9 year old brother that I will never forget. They were both sitting in the waiting room and I could tell that they were really close buddies. I had a little bit of a break and I wanted to get to know some of the kids outside of all the busy work that was going on inside the clinic. I asked them both if they wanted to play soccer and immediately their faces lit up with truly the best smiles I have ever seen. We played soccer for a while and if anything I learned from the talent and athleticism both of them had. It was great to see that regardless of our native countries and the languages we know best, none of it mattered because we were happy, simply playing a sport we all enjoyed to play. About two hours later I was fortunate enough to be in the pediatrics ward with Dr. Lauri and the two brothers visited us for their checkup. I didn't expect much to be wrong with their physical health because I had seen their athletic ability earlier. Little did I know the older brother had spina bifida when he was younger and without his surgery, I may have never had the opportunity to play soccer with him. In hindsight, it is unbelievable to know that his physical health is just like most 12 year-olds and that because of the medical care he got he is now able to live the life every child deserves. Soon after we went to the prayer room and read two prayers in Spanish. It was very renewing for the family because religion is part of everyday life, but I also was able to be present in a very special place for this family which was an unbelievable experience for me on my first full day in Guatemala. The interactions I had today I will remember for many years to come. I am extremely blessed to be part of a terrific team of medical caregivers and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week has in store. I would like to end with a quote that Kofi Annan once said which is very special and meaningful to why it is so important to treat everyone, regardless of where we come from and the beliefs we hold dear to our hearts, with the upmost respect becuase in the end, we are all humans who simply want to live a life of happiness. "We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.