The day started early with 5:30 AM bus ride, but with coffee as promised. We went past the strikers planning to block the main highway in protest against the central government for 6 months of power outages and high fuel costs. Thanks to Felipe, a local Guatemalan, and Faith in Practice employee to just miss the blockade by 15 minutes. Any later and this would have blocked us from getting to the school to serve the people. This block affected our patients as well, as many had to leave their bus, walk through the strikers, and board a second bus on the far side of the crowd in order to reach us.
The Covid pandemic and its resulting financial and social consequences have hit these communities especially hard. With Guatemala already in the top 5 countries in the world for childhood malnutrition and growth stunting, the children here in the indigenous areas of the Mayan Highlands have an almost 70% rate of the same. And this is the baseline that contributes to their many additional medical and developmental problems.
Today our team celebrated a great success with Vincent. A bright and engaging 7-year-old boy, he was carried into the clinic by his mother, unable to walk for the last 3 years due to worsening muscle weakness and contracture (fixed, bent joints) of his arms and legs. Though seen by numerous specialists in the local community, the mother was still unclear as to his diagnosis or what to do for him. Our team made a tentative diagnosis and referred him to the genetics and pediatric neurology specialists in Antigua and Guatemala City where we hoped her questions could be answered. Best of all, our Mobility Clinic team was able to adapt a wheelchair to fit his small frame. He and his mother went home smiling.
All and all we served close to 150 despite the traffic issues.
Fun Fact the local Totonicapán people when giving directions, instead of using their hands they use their lips and almost kiss and stretch the direct the are pointing.
This way their hands can stay in their pockets.
Vaya con dios.