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Kristen& Joe:Medical Team

The doc

This week a team from Killearn United Methodist Church in Tallahassee arrived.  This was different from the usual because it was a medical team.  This was alot of fun for me because I got to break away from the construction work and do something I don’t normally do.  I did whatever was needed, including counting pills and playing with children who’s parents were visiting the doctor.  My main job, however, was taking people’s weights.  Most of the indigenous Guatemalan’s have never even seen a simple bathroom scale, so it took a little patience and alot of humour to teach them how to get on it.  To make matters more complicated, many of them didn’t speak a word of Spanish.  They spoke Kaqchikel, a Mayan language, which I don’t speak a word of.

Most indigenous Guatemalans live well below the poverty line and are severely malnourished.  This week I was able to see it firsthand.  I could not believe how little many of them weighed, including the men.  I truly felt like a fat American as many of the men weighed 50 or 60 pounds less than me.  I confess, I am a little on the plump side, but I’m talking about men who weighed just a little over 100 pounds.  It was amazing.  The children wouldn’t even register on the scale.  Any child 10 or under I had to pick them up and get our  combined weights and then subtract mine.  What was even more interesting was their feet.  Each one had to take off their shoes before stepping on the scale.  The condition of many of their feet was very sad.  Many had feet that looked decades older than their actual age.  I saw several women in their  20’s that had the feet of an 80 year old.  It constantly amazes me how hard these people have to work to put food on the table.  Many Guatemalans climb down the mountains carrying all their wears on their back into Pana to sell stuff to tourists.  Just the long walk in the mornings would exhaust me, but they walk up and down the street all day, and then go back at night to make more stuff for the following day.  All this wear and tear does a number on their bodies and most of the complaints we saw during the week were related to this.  We saw alot of people complaining of feet, joint, and back pain.  Many came just to get free painkillers like Tylenol, because as much as they were hurting, they could not afford simple painkillers.  It’s such a shame that Americans have it so easy, (we can make money sitting down and easily afford painkillers), but the people who really need it, can’t afford simple painkillers.  These are  people who have wounds on their feet and an aching back because they don’t have a bed and are sleeping on the ground or another hard surface.  Another complaint we saw alot of was headaches relating to vision problems.  Many people suffered for years when a simple pair of glasses would take all the pain away.  It was so nice to be able to provide something so simple, yet so life changing for them.

What is most amazing to me is that we live so differently from them and have so much, yet the Guatemalans treat Americans with alot more kindness than we treat each other.  They have every reason to be jealous or hate us, but they don’t.  We Americans can learn a whole lot from them.

Outside of medical clinic

Inside clinic waiting for doctor

Weighing a ladyWeighing a little girl

The pharmacyMe at the pharmacy another day

Joe was great with the kidsThey love bubbles!!She never left my side all day.

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