Imagine getting up early in the morning, standing in front of the kitchen sink, you turn on the faucet and nothing happens. Has the pump failed again? You slip on your jacket, grab a container and start walking down the hill. It hasn't rained lately you're thinking to yourself and you stop in your tracks – the stream-bed is dry. This is not an excerpt from some prairie novel written about life at the turn of the century; it's reality for many families across Appalachia.
In a country so plagued by poverty, one would hope that the contrast between wealth and destitution would rile up people's desire for justice. But following conversations with my Guatemalan peers in the clinic, it has become apparent that the silent apathy has also become just as prevalent as the poverty that screams for our attention. Despite the undeniable contrasts, many people seem to view poverty as benign and even acceptable. Those who choose to acknowledge poverty here do not always know how to or take action against it.
There will always be patients that leave an indelible mark upon your career, future treatments and personal emotional strength. Yet medical providers do their best to find coping mechanisms to prevent the emotional burnout of seeing tragedy after tragedy, but these barriers can be overcome. I've had a few very influential patients in my short time working with medicine, but there is one at the Primeros Pasos clinic who continues to interrupt my thoughts because of his illnesses and how he his plight affects my deepest personal values. I've seen this patient three times now and he has become a frequent forethought during my time here in Guatemala.
If first impressions mean anything, then this trip to Kenya will be one I will always remember. Not that I expected anything less. We arrived at Kijabe about one week ago, and there already are a number of things that have awe-struck me. But perhaps what has stood out more than anything to me is the people here. While many of them have little in the way of possessions, you couldn't find a more happy, gracious, or appreciative people, making this journey all the more special.

by Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.

Senator Frist talks about the history of Hope Through Healing Hands in the video below. He recounts its origins, its emergency relief efforts through the years -- with the tsunami, Katrina, and Haiti, and he describes our Frist Global Health Leaders program showcasing our student health professionals who have served in clinics and hospitals around the world.

We invite you to watch this short video to get a glimpse of the work we do at Hope Through Healing Hands. We hope it is a helpful tool to highlight the health care done for the world's poorest.

 

According to the World Food Program (WFP), over 70% of people in Guatemala live in poverty. The country has the 4th highest rate of malnutrition in the world, and the highest rate of malnutrition in Latin America. The WFP says that 49.3% of children in Guatemala are undernourished. Most of these children live in the rural areas, and most are of indigenous descent. I can definitely vouch for having seen something of a geographically-based health disparity here. From what I have seen personally, and heard casually, there is little malnutrition in the city of Quetzaltenango (Xela) because of several outreach programs, and relatively clean and accessible water and sewage.
The H2O tour has wrapped up its summer run, and the Water = Hope campaign is proud to have built so much for clean water issues amongst country fans! Our final two weeks on the tour were a bit of a whirlwind, with stops in San Francisco, San Diego, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Boise, Salt Lake City and Denver. Along the way, as always, we were joined by some amazing volunteers!
The Guatemalan school year has ended, and mobile clinics and educational programs for school children from Primeros Pasos have also ended. All of these initiatives are a part of the healthy school program that Primeros Pasos runs, but only take place during the school year. Now these children are on their own for care and education until the beginning of next year, although the clinic will be open through mid December.
It has been two weeks since I touched down in Guatemala City and I haven't had a dull moment since my arrival. From the bus rides through the mountains to the hikes up mountains, Lauren and I have found profound experiences and learning wherever we go. The cultural lessons have been exceptionally enlightening as well as the medical paradigm shift.

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