Friday, September 25, 2009

On the road on Vacation

I am now in the United States visiting family and Friends and also sharing information about our Mission of the Diocese of Helena in Guatemala. In Washington DC I visited friends that I shared and worked with in the eighties. It was a joy to be with Alice Zachmann for a few days. I worked with Alice as she was the founder of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission,USA. I was sort of a translator and followed Alice about in her daily work and met many wonderful friends who worked for justice for the people in Central America. Alice, 82 years young, is now a 12 hour a day volunteer at the International Task Force against torture in our world, TASSC. The next evening we had a lovely supper at the ASSISI Community . Dianna Ortiz, a torture victim in the nineties in Guatemala,and founder of TASSC, lives there and was the cook for the evening. She is doing fine and an inspiration to all. I met Amanda, the now Director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission,USA. Amanda was a Peace Corp Volunteer in an agrarian community in Guatemala in the nineties; surprisingly this community is just five minutes from our mission and part of our parish. She will visit me in December. She invited me to accompany her to the Guatemalans celebration of the September 15, INDEPENDENCE DAY FOR GUATEMALA, in Maryland. I happily went along and was able to sell some crafts for our mission to the Guatemalan immigrants living in our country and help support our mission clinic.

Then I was on to visit my nieces and nephews living in Maryland. I went to a CORN MAIZE with grand nieces and nephews, a lovely shrimp dinner with my nephew Jimmy and family, Peggy her husband and son. It was fun to be with the children and see how they are growing so fast. I went to the Zoo with Peggy and little Aedan the next day. Now I am with My sister Marie, husband Jim and another niece Mary. She lives amidst the trees in Vermont, incredible view and peaceful setting. We drove around the beautiful sites of Vermont and again being treated royally to delicious food and rest and relaxation. Today my sister and I will go to the Weston Priory for a few days. I have always been inspired by this Benedictine Community who gave sanctuary to Guatemalans fleeing the violence in the eighties.

Thank You for your support of our work in Guatemala and for reading my blog. You can send a donation for our Clinic in Guatemala at:

Guatemala Mission
Nurses Fund
Diocese of Helena
PO BOX 1729
Helena, MT


Thursday, September 10, 2009

State of Calamity proclaimed for HUNGER in Guatemala

Guatemala has proclaimed a state of CALAMITY for HUNGER. The MINISTER of HEALTH in the Cabinet has lost his position. The Clinica Maxeña is witness to this state of hunger and malnutrition in infants and small children. It is a situation that the CHURCH is in the front line to combat and accompany the people. It is said with this proclamation more funds will be available from International organizations for projects related to nutrition. We are well aware the solution is JUSTICE. An average field worker here can earn as low as $3.00 a day, and reality there is no work available. The corn and bean crop have failed because of lack of rain in many areas. The field workers risk their lives to migrate to the NORTH, the United States; often resulting in disintegration of the family. They pay high interest loans for this dangerous voyage, often with unscrupulous guides. They often lose the little land they have as they had put it up for collateral for the loan; they never arrive in their destination or they are unable to find work in the US.

Last week one infant arrived with severe malnutrition at one month of age. The mother, 40 yrs of age, ten children, has minimal breast milk. She has been supplementing the infant with water. The infant weighed 4 pounds. I visited the home after our worker interviewed the mother. Their situation is critical as it was obvious there was little or no food available, few of the children are enrolled in school, they are mostly barefoot on their dirt floor environment. They no longer own their land, but are now taking shelter, as they had taken a loan for a son to go to states and they could not pay the loan. One of our workers is a neighbor; he related that yesterday the neighbors collected a few pound of corn, beans,rice,and sugar to donate to the family as they knew they had no food to eat. The father has no work and the only crop they have is bananna. The Clinic Maxeña will provide formula for this infant and protein supplement for the other children.

Our Clinic has hopes to be able to collect additional funds from donors and perhaps an international organization for this critical cause of HUNGER which has resulted in a proclamation of STATE OF CALAMITY!!! THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

International Day for Migrants

Good Afternoon from the Clinica Maxeña!!
Today is a busy day as we intitiate the week of the Opthamology Brigade; three Opthamologists from California and one Guatemalan Doctor provided by the association for Blindness in Guatemala, have begun to do exams and eye surgeries.

Sunday the Clinic workers had the opportunity to travel to the Mexican Border as part of Pastoral Health of the diocese here in Guatemala. These campaigns of solidarity are a very important part of the Social Justice themes of our Church here in Guatemala. Twenty five workers went in a bus that the Clinic contracted. In reality it was a joyful day away from the work of the clinic. The clinic band followed an ambulance in the march for Human Rights for Migrants along with other clinic workers, carrying our banner, on the border between Mexico and Guatemala. Several other parishes and groups working with AIDS were also part of the march and day of education.

AIDS continues a major concern with migrants and since our state is on the the route to the border it is one of the reasons that AIDS is a major issue in this area. The state of Suchitepequez is third in incidence of AIDS in the country. Pastoral Health of diocese provides training sessions for leaders in the CHURCH on AIDS PREVENTION and COMPASSION for patients with this disease. The Bishops Conference has a complete Program, TEACHING LOVE, that is available and provides sex education from Primary school through highschool. Our Clinic is initiating and coordinating these programs for youth in the area.

As our EYE CLINIC is in process our clinic is very busy. Regular consult by our clinic doctor is happening simultaneously and he has already seen five new cases of severe malnutrition in children under three years. The parents are interviewed to their home, nutrition, and economic status. They are enrolled in our supplemental Milk Program and in the monthly obligatory nutrition class.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Malnutrition CRISIS in GUATEMALA

Good Morning from the Clinica Maxeña! For all who have not visited our Mission, our Clinic is located in the lower coast on the Pacific side, about three hours from the city. Our town is about 13,000 population but borders a mountainous region of over 90communities of Mayan Indigenous population with an estimated 75,000 population.

The rains have been considerably less this year resulting in a critical dryness of the land which caused failed bean and corn crops, especially for the poor from the mountain communities. The failure of the crops and the extreme poverty has caused malnutrition to become a major health issue for the people we serve. Daily we are seeing infants and small children whose weight is critically low. Many children of 2 to 3 years can no longer stand or walk. All babies here are breast fed until at least one year old. This is a blessing as milk is not a product they can afford so children are weaned off the breast to sweetend coffee. We do supplement the malnourished children with formula or powdered fortified milk. Corn is of course grown in this region but more and more village men now use their small plots of land for cash crops such as coffee and a leaf used in making the traditional tamale. Coffee prices are down and the reality it is a once a year crop, the people are planting less coffee too. The land is fertile and there are many healthy herbs that grow naturally if the land is tilled properly. Some vegetables will also grow in this climate but money is scarce so people need assist in obtaining seed and organic compost and instruction. Pastoral Health of the diocese gives workshops on Agro-ecology. We have a Medicinal Plant Clinic that also grows some nutritional plants, native to the area.

The Clinic is constantly looking for ideas on how to assist the people lead more healthy lives. The people in need are knocking on our door for help. We have the confidence of the population, trained personell, but our coffers of funds are low.
We want to offer family vegetable gardens for the mothers of the malnourished and perhaps some chickens. They have small plots of land and we have the personell to teach organic gardens. We need to buy seeds, fencing, chickens and some garden tools. We know it is a drop in the bucket to the immense problem of malnutrition. We are well aware that the economic times are difficult in all parts of the world. We are a PEOPLE of FAITH! The Gospel inspire us to move forward with faith and hope and to reach out to those who are suffering the most. We can only accomplish goals through accompaniement of friends who have responded to our clinc needs over the years. We are now in our 45th year of our mission. Thank You for being one who has walked with us and the people of Guatemala.