The day we’ve been waiting for has arrived; our first clinic day! Everyone appeared well-rested and energized when we gathered at 6am. During our morning devotional we were asked to reflect on how we each prepared for this week, why we personally were in Guatemala, and how we could best be used. While everyone may have slightly different responses, ultimately every person has a desire to serve, and that’s what unites us as a team.
The day was action packed in the Mobility Clinic, where wheelchairs are constructed and distributed to patients. Early in the day Julia arrived. She’s a beautiful 92-year old, and although she can no longer walk, her face and especially her eyes radiate joy and energy. When I met her, she’d just been fitted with her new wheelchair, and Dr. Joe Austin was speaking to her sweetly. There were tears in her eyes, but there was no doubt that they were tears of joy. She was accompanied by her adult son, and the mutual love between the mother and son was incredibly moving. The family bond is strong in Guatemala, and Julia and her son were a true example of that bond.
While Julia may have been our oldest patient of the day, another wheelchair patient, Gerson, who is three-years old, was definitely one of our youngest. He and his grandmother or abuela had traveled 3 hours by bus to arrive at the clinic. Gerson was born prematurely with his twin, who sadly died at birth. He likely has Spina Bifida, and has never walked. His mother is a domestic worker in Guatemala City, and lives there weeks at a time, while Gerson’s grandmother is raising him. At three years old he’s a little too small for the wheelchairs available to our patients, but that didn’t stop the team from finding a solution for Gerson. Our wheelchair technician, Byron, is certified to fit wheelchairs perfectly for recipients, and was able to customize a wheelchair for our young patient. Soon after completing the new wheelchair, Gerson’s little hands were moving the chair around the clinic and his smile was melting the hearts of all who had helped him.
At the end of the day, approximately 150 patients were seen in General Medicine, Pediatrics, Gynecology and the Mobility Clinic. Day 1 was a success, and tomorrow will bring another opportunity for our team to work together to help those in need in El Progreso.