Today, my life was ruined. Ruined in a way that my life will never be the same. Ruined to the point where I will never be able to ignore the silent cries of the people around me in the village of Patanatic and throughout the world. That seems like an obvious comment, to never be able to ignore the underserved. That's what we all say that we strive for whenever we do any form of service. But to be completely honest, you don't really know what it feels like. You don't know what it feels like to see a community of people starving for food, education, healthcare, money and well, survival. It changes you. It makes you feel guilty. It ruins you. But frankly, I needed to be ruined.
Today, we began our two hour journey to the clinic in Patanatic, where we will be providing healthcare for the rest of the week. We were fortunate enough to be able to take a back road route to the clinic where we saw the transition from Guatemala City to a series of villages leading up to Patanatic. With each mile I felt more and more of myself ruin as we saw houses, markets, businesses and the faces of the Guatemalan community. I wish I could do these images justice, but no words would truly suffice.
Upon our arrival to the clinic, we all quickly carried our luggage inside and began to set up triage, dental, glasses, the pharmacy and the two patient rooms. I was placed in the pharmacy today with Greg and our pharmacist Eric, allowing me the privilege to unpack suitcase after suitcase in order to replenish the clinic with a full supply of medication. It was an awe-shock type of feeling to see bare shelves reaching full capacity. Furthermore, Greg found medication that was soon to expire in February. We realized how blessed we were having to move our trip up to Christmas break, as we would have had to waste a lot of medication if we were to arrive in early March as originally planned.
As the clinic opened and we began to fill prescriptions, I quickly learned a lot. On the surface I learned what medicines could treat which conditions and what shorthand notation meant for the prescription of each mediation. But past this fully enriching medical education, I had the opportunity to deliver the medication to each individual patient. Although I found the language barrier to be challenging, I was able to see a flash of relief in the eyes of each patient as they received medication that they otherwise would not have been able to afford. Obtaining medicine is something that is so easy for us to do in the United States. Therefore, having this reality of inaccessibility to something as simple as medication brought to life is truly eye opening.
As I sit down to write this blog, I'm sitting out on a balcony overlooking the city of Panajechal enjoying the cool breeze, well knowing that this is something I could never experience back home I'm Cincinnati. I find myself doing this a lot; comparing everything I've experienced in the last 48 hours to home. I hate that I'm thinking this way; always thinking about what I have compared to the people around me. But at the same time, I'm truly starting to understand how surreal our time here is. We are all here working in the clinic for a measly four and a half days. That's incredible. Four and a half days to provide healthcare to people who may only have this one time to see a doctor, knowing full well that if I get sick while I'm down here I have unlimited access to two doctors, one nurse and one pharmacist. Four and a half days to give members of this community an ounce of comfort knowing that they are going to be able to have medicine to hold them over for the weeks to come, knowing full well that at home I could easily just drive up to my local pharmacy. These thoughts are what ruin you. But they are also what drive you to give every ounce of yourself during your time down here. They are what force you to reexamine your life here and now in order to make a positive impact on the lives around you in the future. They are what define you as a person; not letting them freeze you, but drive you to make purposeful actions toward a better tomorrow each and every day. Now that I have been ruined, I see that not many people are. So frankly, through each of these blogs my goal is to ruin you too.