Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Last week we had the joy of inaugurating our new Kitchen for the clinic personell, patients, and mission visitors. This has been a great gift. As explained in a previous blog our mountain project is now administered by a newly formed organization managed by their team of doctors and has moved out of the clinic. This kitchen had been in the budget and we are delighted at its completion and inauguration. We celebrated the founding of their new organization and the inauguration of the kitchen the same day. Archbishop Curtiss, previously Bishop of our Diocese in Helena, Montana was visiting and accompanied Our pastor, Fr Hazy as he blessed the new construction. We enjoyed the traditional tamales and band music with this celebration.

The new kitchen has a tile floor, two new Onil stoves to save on fire wood, many windows that let the sun shine in. Indeed this is a real change and pleasant atmosphere! This week we have continued to paint cupboards, position the appliances and have begun to serve meals. Forty years ago I purchased a straw cross in front of the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City for one dollar; this cross now adorns the wall. We hope visitors and personell will enjoy the service of our new kitchen.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Diabetes now a Major Health Issue

Last year we became acutely aware that Diabetes had become a major health issue for the Mayan Indigenous of Guatemala. That this chronic illness was completely ignored by the Ministry of Health was of deep concern for us. Most of the new diabetic patients have type 2 Diabetes. These patients are more easily managed with oral medication and diet. We have initiaed a Diabetic Club at the Clinica Maxeña which meets monthly. We have excellent support for classes from the Nutriitionist of Pastoral Health of the Diocese.

We are more concerned with two young patients who are coping with type 1 Diabetes.
Lorenzo is 26 years old and a teacher; he is a graduate of our parish highschool, Asuncion. Two weeks ago he came to the clinic in acute distress. He had difficult breathing, fatigue, profound anemia and malnourished. He related that he was advised in January by a auxiliary nurse in a Pharmacy that he had diabetes and he sold him oral medication for one month but gave him no medical advice or information. Since he felt a little better and for economic reasons he did not persue more advice or treatment. Unfortunately he has complications from the disease from lack of immediate treatment. His vision is damaged and more diagnostic tests have to be performed. He stayed as an in patient in our clinic for one week. His pneumonia was treated, lab tests performed, and he was started on insulin. Within the week he was smiling and feeling much better. His severe vision complication will need the intervention of an opthamologist. He was fortunate to have a younger brother who was willing to donate a unit of blood for his severe anemia. He was committed to come to the Diabetic Club.He is married and has one child. Fortunately his wife is literate and can assist him in reading the insulin syringe and supervise his injections twice daily. Lorenzo had just obtained a teaching position before he fell ill. He has sent a relative to cover his classes to not lose this important opportunity of employment. We are aware that even though he has a professional position, for now he is unemployed, and will need economic assistance from the Clinica Maxeña. Insulin costs approximately $35. a month for insulin, syringes, and glucose checks. $60. would purchase a glucometer for an insulin dependent diabetic. Lorenzo was able to see DVDs of previous classes by the nutritionist and will assist for the first time the Diabetic Club this week.

Our other young patient with insulin dependent diabetes is more a challenge. She is 16 years old, with only third grade primary education. Unfortunately home environment is not ideal with her father being unemployed and alcoholic. She is also malnourished and does not accept the reality of her diabetes. She also was an inpatient this past week with crisis of hypoglycemia and unstable glucoses. She comes to most meetings of the diabetic club with her mother.

November 14 has been named by the United Nations as WORLD DAY OF DIABETES. The Theme chosen is Know your Diabetes and Take Charge. We at the Clinic will continue to help our patients learn how to control their diabetes and to understand this illness. Thank You for Your support to make this possible.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pasin, a very poor community

Last week we hosted members of Libby, Montana Rotary. They came to visit the community Pasin. Pasin is one of the poorest communities we serve. This is evident as you enter their community as there are only a few homes that are constructed with block.The homes are built with wood or bamboo and tin roofs. Less than five have graduated from highschool. We have several children receiving milk and protein supplement from the area because of severe malnourishment. The Rotary of Libby have plans to upgrade the water availability for people in the community. Their system is very old and most families only have water at night. Water is in cement sinks outdoors and for many they share the water source with two or three other neighbors.
The project will not begin until 2010.

Manuel, 14yrs old, who suffered severe burns from firecrackers is from this community. His father is disabled and unable to work and his mom has a chronic illness. The Libby Rotary responded to our need to provide ONIL stoves to the most impoverished free of charge by purchasing two. While they were here we installed one of these stoves in the home of Manuel. As the picture shows, they had been cooking on the open ground. Firewood was impossible for them to purchase so the father and Manuel would gather twigs from trees from the nearby woodsy area. This gift will be of great service to this family. Each stove costs $100. You too can respond to this need by sending a donation to our Mission.
Guatemala Mission
Nurses Fund
PO Box 1729
Helena, MT.
Note that it is for ONIL STOVE:
thanks much and PEACE to all your family.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


June 5 is celebrated throughout the WORLD as the day of the environment. Garbage dumps everywhere, lack of sanitation and potable water in many communities, forest fires and brutal deforestation, lack of recycling, make this month of major importance for Guatemala and the Clinica Maxeña. Human beings do not feel part of NATURE but rather OWNERS of the PLANET. NO longer are we good gardeners! We cannot as Human Beings and CHRISTIANS not make a difference. We must reflect and act with urgency to make changes in the PLANET. This Years THEME is THE PLANET NEEDS YOU! The CLINICA MAXEÑA has placed a banner on the entrance of town to commemorate the MONTH. This theme plus the phrase, PLANT A TREE, adorns the banner. Pastoral Health of the CATHOLIC CHURCH reminds us that "CREATION IS A REFLECTION OF THE BEAUTY AND KINDNESS OF GOD"

A few months ago we had a major forest fire on the VOLCANOE PECUL which is the source of all water for the lower coast where our mission is located. 1300 hectares burned and only the miracle of rain was able to extinguish the fire. Local Mayan field workers trudged up the mountain daily as volunteers, carrying a few gallons of water, picks and hoes in a futile attempt to save the mountain.

The FORESTS are disappearing, the WATER is being negotiated, CONTAMINATION advances, ILLNESSES, SUFFERING AND HUNGER are increasing! HELP ONE ANOTHER so that the fruits and beauty of the earth are conserved for generations, present and future.


$100. will purchase an Onil Stove that saves firewood for a Poor family in Guatemala.
$20. will allow us to purchase 50 trees to plant and fight deforestation.

Guatemala Mission
Nurses Fund
PO BOX 1729
Helena, MT
THank You!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Successful Mountain Project moves on!

The Mountain Project,as part of the parish clinic of Santo Tomas La Union and mission clinic of the Diocese of Helena Montana, is moving on to new headquarters in town,the end of June. This project began in 2003 as a pilot project to demonstrate to the Ministry of Health of Guatemala a more effective way to provide health care to the diverse indigenous populations who live in remote areas of the country side. Vaccinations increased and maternal and infantil deaths, and malnutrition have all diminished in the area served. This inclusive Model of basic Health Care has proven itself a success. The goal in 2003 was that in three years the Ministry of Helath would adopt the model as an alternative model and assume the expense of the proyect. This never happened and the supporting organizations of Medicus Mundi of Spain and the European Union agreed to extend the financial support until 2011. The reality is the goal to associate with the Ministry of Health is important for this project and the different visions as a parish clinic obligate us to separate the project for the Clinica Maxeña. It has been an awarding experience to be a part of the success story demonstrated when health assistants from the same area who speak the language and understand the customs are given the opportunity of employment to provide medical care in their own communities. Many visitors who have visited our mission have visited one of the six mountain clinics of this project and have been impressed with the interest and success demonstrated by documentation and participation of the community in their own health care. Basic medical care is provided free of cost in these small mountain clinics in the same manner it is in other government clinics. So often in government clinics there are no medications, personell do not speak the indian dialect and are there only for the job which is usually politically associated and little interest in the diverse Mayan culture. The clinic will bid good by to 24 workers in a get together on June 25 with the other workers who work directly in the Clinica Maxeña. There will not be tears but celebration for a job well done and moving on to another structure and organization in our town. We will have tamales, music, games and finally a soccer match between the teams of the two groups. Colaboration, consulting on patients will continue as will the friendship.