by Lauren Eppinger
Vanderbilt School of Nursing
I have been back in the United States for a week and a half now. Coming home from Guatemala during the holiday season is a strange transition. I couldn't help but look at all of the (admittedly exciting) products and services being offered, and think "oh, that money for that completely useless thing could pay for 'x' children's medicine, or food." I have been trying to adjust to life in the US, and accept the differences between life here and the poverty in places like Xela, trying to enjoy the luxury but maintain the perspective. In the midst of all of this enjoyment, I am reminding myself periodically that too much acceptance of this sort of disparity leads to complacency, which only further harms people.
The last couple of weeks in Xela were exciting. I worked hard on wrapping up the malnutrition project, and Cody and I got the suero (oral rehydration solution or ORS) going at the clinic. We got materials together and taught clinic staff how to mix up the bags of powder for families to make in their homes. All children with diarrhea, vomiting, or risk of dehydration can now be given enough suero to prevent dehydration, or treat mild to moderate dehydration. The families add one bag of ORS mix into one liter of water, and it is good for 24 hours. We can now make suero for 1/10 of the cost of the previous supply, which means that $1 allows us to make 20 liters of suero, which treats 5-10 children for a day. The project was well-received at the clinic, and may be shared with other clinics after we get things running smoothly at Primeros Pasos.
Now that I am at home, and see how much $1 and some hard work can buy, I have been trying to be careful about my spending. I have encouraged my friends and family to consider giving money to organizations such as Primeros Pasos (or Hope Through Healing Hands) to help support projects like this suero project or malnutrition treatment, and clean water initiatives. I'm not trying to advertise for any specific organizations, but I think that this sort of giving is extremely important. Here is a link to donations for Primeros Pasos, if you are interested. http://www.primerospasos.org/donate.
I would like to thank Hope Through Healing Hands for the opportunity to do such rewarding work in Guatemala. I hope that the work that was done was as helpful for the community as it was inspiring for me!