Friday, July 31, 2009


This is an update on my little sick child, Feliza, who I wrote about in my last blog.

Feliza is now in the Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City. Admitting patients to this hospital, which is the largest in the country, is often difficult if not impossible. Usually they are transferred and referred by National hospitals in the different regions of the country. Many of patients in our region do not go to these hospitals for lack of confidence and the reality that care is inadequate and there is little support system for the indian culture and language.

Feliza was not improving and the reality, that even with all the lab and diagnostic tests done, the doctors we consulted were not sure of the exact source of her illness. We are fortunate to have a contact and friendship of a doctor in the city, who works in the Cancer Hospital for children, adjacent to the ROOSEVELT HOSPITAL. She suggested that we bring her to the Cancer Hospital and she would consult a Friend Pediatrician at the Roosevelt to admit Feliza. Again this contact proved very fruitful for us. As this doctor from Roosevelt, a Pediatric Surgeon, worked for us in the seventies, when he was a Med student. He was very concerned and committed to the care of Feliza. He also agreed to help us with another child we have been trying to admit to Roosevelt Hospital for surgery for six months. He accompanied us directly to the Emergency of Pediatrics and gave instructions to the residents to admit Feliza to his ward. This process took six hours and yet we still left the father with Feliza in the emergency room when we headed for the Mission so to return before dark. The father could stay during the day with Feliza and the hospital provides a bed and meals in a temporary house near the hospital for him. I left a clinic cell phone with him so we could communicate daily with him.

The day before when Feliza was in the clinic she started to cry. I thought she had pain and when I asked her what was wrong; she said, "I want a pair of shoes". Her parents were surprised at her request and laughed. I sat down with her and asked her what kind of shoes did she want. She said, I want "TACONES", which is spanish for hi heels. Her little feet were swollen from her illness. I bought her instead furry mouse slippers which made her happy. I promised when she was well I would get her the heels which many young indian girls wear at school. Feliza is in the fifth grade in her community, and despite her illness she continued to go to school until the teacher sent her to a doctor at a government clinic who then sent her to us.
The Bishop of the Diocese of the mountainous area we serve was here the night before we decided to take her to the city. He prayed with her and her dad and blessed her. I ask you to also remember Feliza in your prayers.


Saturday, July 25, 2009


Feliza is 11 years old;she lives with her parents and 3 siblings in a small mountainous village. Two weeks ago her father brought her to our clinic with a referral from a government clinic with a diagnosis of chronic hepatitis and malnutrition. Government doctors in village clinics have no access to diagnostic tests and only basic medications. The minimal care received in these clinics is without cost to the patient. Feliza appeared sad and very ill; she was very frail, thin and juandiced. The translation of her name is HAPPY.
Unfortunately this is not reality for her now.

Our Doctor,Ever, ordered an ultra sound to identify the mass in her abdomen and other lab tests. We must accompany patients to the next town, provide a translator and usually pay the cost of the ultra sound. Many chemical lab tests are performed in our own clinic but others we send out to a larger Laboratory with a Bio Chemist in this same town. Felizas condition was chronic and complicated. Her tests showed negative for hepatitis but she had a yet unidentified mass in her liver, chronic fever and pain. A Pediatrician was consulted and he ordered an abdominal CAT scan and more complex laboratory tests. The results showed a severe peritonitis, necrotic ganglion, a Liver abscess, probably a result of intestinal amoebas that were also identified. She had lower extremity edema from the malnutrition and the ascites, abdomial fluid retention, was increasing.

In our culture Feliza would be in Intensive care! Not so in the rural area of Guatemala where Health Care for the POOR is unavailable and inadequate. There was no way we could admit her to the government hospital because we knew she would not receive the care and medications needed or could her parents be at her side. We wouldnt send her back home! We brought her back to our small ward for patients in our clinic. Her prognosis was grave. Cirrhosis was feared. She was profoundly anemic and her father donated blood for her and she was transfused. This was done in our clinic infirmary. Antibiotics, amoebic treatment,pain medication, small diuretic doses and IV infusions have been happening. Last night she had a difficult night but now 24 hours after the transfusion she seems slightly better and smiling.

Feliza is one of the reasons why our parish clinic has a mission. We are not here to solve the health issues for the government. We are here as mission people, making present JESUS, at the bedside and in the communities, where there is suffering and injustice. OUR MISSION is one of a PREFERENTIAL OPTION FOR THE POOR AND MOST NEEDY and thus we participate in the construction of a just society with solidarity and service for LIFE!


Send your donations to:
Guatemala Mission
Diocese of Helena
P.O. Box 1729

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fire Wood for the POOR

Last week we bid farewell to one of two La Ceiba trees that were planted over forty years ago on our mission ground. The tree had a large split in it and as these tree are the National tree of the country, and their trunks and branches are huge and heavy. We could not risk possible damage to property or life; we had to eliminate one. There seemed a certain saddness to see it come crashing down with the assist of seasoned tree cutters and volunteer personell. This corner however is now much brighter than before. Today other workers are cutting the huge branches and trunk with electric saws. We will donate the firewood obtained to the very poor who do not have access and often suffer in being able to cook and have food available for their families. Sr. Anna and Diego from Pastoral Ministry are choosing the neediest and elderly for this gift of firewood.

The LA CEIBA TREE is an important element in the Mayan Culture. It is known as the TREE of LIFE. Often I sit outside in the morning with my coffee and watch beautiful yellow and orange birds fly in and around the trees. So often we dont appreciate or enjoy the beautiful surroundings and peace we all enjoy in the environment our creator gifted to us!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Dilia comes Home

Palm sunday was a sad day for us. Pedro, one of our lab technicians, younger sister, a deaf mute, had got on a town bus in the early hours by herself to the city. No one heard her leave the house. Dilia is 24 years old. She is a pretty indigenous young woman who lived quietly with her family. She would go places only accompanied by her family. On a few occassions in the past she had left alone but was easily found in nearby homes. Her family did everything they could to try and locate her. In this country there is little assistance available for the handicapped. She had no skills of communication. Prayers services by both catholic and evangelical churches were happening. The family went to the city, and other towns, to Police stations, put out communications and appealed on the radio. They put it in Gods hands and went on with their lives but were positive that she would return.

Yesterday, three months to the day, her picture appeared in the local newspaper. She was in a home for the aged and the handicapped in Guatemala City and was looking for her parents. We were overjoyed, tears of JOY. Her brother, our lab assistant, her mother and a friend, myself and a clinic driver left immediately for the city. We went to the center of the Attorney General for Guatemala, as it was from this office that the ad was placed in the newspaper. We were late arriving as we had to obtain official copies of her birth certificate. We were unable to visit her and bring her home, as their office was closing and we only finished the necessary paper work, no time for the official receiving of Dilia. We did learn she was 12 days on the street before it was denounced to this office and she was brought to a safe environment. This too was a relief as we now knew she was not three months on the street but 12 days. We still knew we would have to see that she had a complete physical and was welcomed back into her home and community. 5PM today with the Catholic Community we received Dilia with firecrackers and hugs and prayer. The neighbors gave coffee and bread to those who welcomed her home and supper to the family. The clinic provided her with a bed, which she did not have, as she had slept on boards. We all went home grateful and with peace. For all present it was a miracle amidst difficult moments when all came together to celebrate her welcome HOME and give thanks to GOD for bringing her home SAFE!