Saturday, March 27, 2010

Humanity and Health, 5th friday of Lent

March 26, is for the Ministry of Pastoral Health, a Day for a more humane world for Health care in Guatemala. On this day the Clinic closes shop and all our workers join others from our Diocese, who work in Health care, to listen to the message of our Bishop, Pablo. The workshop was in Matzatenango, about 40 minutes from the mission, by bus. It was blistering warm as the sun beat down on the tin roof and small ventilators brought a cool breeze.

The theme was suffering, as part of human life, not as a punishment from God for sins. No one escapes suffering and suffering can only be overcome through LOVE. Put ourselves in the shoes of one suffering, this is the advice of our BISHOP. He asked us to encourage others to offer one´s suffering for others; it can transform lives.
We participate in Pastoral Health as a road to salvation. Death does not have the last word; God is present with us. We are instruments of HIS LOVE. Monday we return to our busy day in the Clinic, inspired by the message we hopefully took home with us.

In the evening, Sr Mary and I went uptown to the fifth Friday of Lent procession. The streets were lined with spectators and others carried the heavy statues in large platforms in purple satin robes as they processed slowly, stopping at different homes that had displays of the different stations of the CROSS. The youth are very present in the procession. All over the country, in large towns and small communities, the processions lead up to the dramatization of HOLY WEEK! and the Resurection of Jesus. This is a country with violence and suffering but yet a country with deep faith and Hope.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Wearing of the GREEN! March 17

Greeting of the Irish to yas. This has always been a very special day, one to share who ever may be. Today was our monthly general meeting for the clinic personell. Surely none of them have heard of St Patrick, except from me. I rose early to put on my green Irish Princess t shirt, and green earrings. I had already ordered tamales for the meeting and green juice, no beer! I bought a wee green t shirt for my cocker puppy. I put up my calendar from Ireland and ready for the meeting.

Our speaker for the meeting was a Psychologist and medical doctor who also works with another parish clinic. His topic was stress. Clinic workers have stresses, as all of us, but often it is more accented here because of poverty and dealing daily with patients who are acutely ill, sometimes from the effects of hunger. Problems are sometimes beyond our abiity to solve so we are called to accompany our patients in their daily lives. We still have in recuperation in the clinic, Maria, 85 years with a fractured leg, and Sandra, 16yr old Asuncion student, recovering from peritonitis and other complications from ruptured appendix. Both do seem on the road to recovery.

Lent is also slipping by. Religious activities make real this season of Liturgy in our Catholic tradition. Friday evenings, the large statues, in majestic clothing, come out in the streets of town in procession, with a faithful following in silence and candles. Easter approaches.

happy day of the LEPRECHAUN to each and every one.

Love sheila

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

International Women´s Day

March 8 is celebrated globally as International Day of the WOMAN! In different regions of the world there are different focuses. Since the signing of the Guatemalan Peace Accords in 1996, the woman has been more visible and vocal for her Rights! Most important for the guatemalan woman is a Life free of Violence! In 2009there were over 700 assasinations of women, mostly in Guatemala City. Domestic violence is also frequent and violent but now the woman is more courageous to denounce and persue her rights in court. There exists a national Organization in Defense of the woman´s Rights but there is much yet to accomplished to have a more just world for women in Guatemala.

The Clinica Maxeña has 10 female workers out of a total of 30 workers. They have a small organization that has meetings and now are planning speakers or themes during the monthly general meeting of clinic workers. On March 8th there was a small celebration in honor of the women workers. Music, comments on the role of women by a few workers, cake, and a small gifts were part of the celebration. The male workers of the clinic hosted the celebration. As always, for celebration of International days, a large banner was made by the Clinica Maxeña with the United Nations theme and will remain visible for the month. The International theme for Women is

Blessing and Peace to all women in the WORLD!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Friendship with a Remote Mountain Village

A few months ago we had a German visitor who was referred to visit our Clinic by the Health Association we have been a member of for over 30 years. He is a Journalist and he wanted to report on the life of the coffee picker, and our mission is near several coffee plantations. His report appeared recently in a Guatemalan newspaper, and was very informative and also critical of the suffering and wages of the coffee pickers.

This visitor also had interest in our Health projects, especially our ONIL stoves that save wood, prevent burns and eye disease. He had adopted a group of 14 families during the armed conflict of the eighties and nineties. When this group of families were dispossed of their land, he purchased land high in the Quiche mountains that they had chosen. The area is very isolated; they use solar light, have fresh healthy spring water, no road into the community, they must walk two hours. Their homes are very humble, dirt floors made mostly from wood and tin roofing; he constructed a very basic structure for a school and got the government to allot one teacher. Their community has 70 persons, including women and children. There is one small store with minimal products. Market day is in a plantation that they must walk out to once a week. They have fertile soil and plant corn, coffee, beans and trees. Their land in on the side of a mountain. They have no clinic or medicine available in their community. They formed this new community seven years ago and named it WACHALAL, which in their Mayan language translates for "BROTHERS". They all speak Mayan Quiche, the same indigenous language that is spoken here.

His proposal to our Clinic was that he would purchase 14 stoves for the families of the community he supports from our clinic and if we would deliver the stoves to the community he would donate 1,200. dollars additional for our Nutrition Project. Our administrative team agreed to this proposal, not for the financial assistance to our clinic, but more of interest of collaborating with a community living isolated in the mountains. We knew we would benefit from this friendship.

Three of our workers delivered the first eight stoves to the community with our pickup truck. Our new German friend Andres also went on this journey. It was a three day adventure and Chico provided the others of the clinic with a report and pictures.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dental Team returns HOME!

Good afternoon from the Clinica Maxeña!
This morning Friends of our Mission left after a busy, successful week of dental care for youth of our school and workers of the Clinica Maxeña. Chris Mast, dentist and his lovely wife Ashlinn, from Helena, MT. have provided this valuable service now for three years.They were accompanied by three dental students, Alan, Brian and Casey. Unfortunately in this country, Dental Care is not considered an aspect of health care by the Ministry of Health but reserved for those with considerable economic possibilities.

The poor have health promotors extract teeth when they are decayed or painful. This service is about four dollars. We would provide this service free when necessary. To save a tooth or have preventive dental care is rare in their reality.

Chris performed 8 root canals, 45 fillings, 28 extractions, and 6 deep cleanings!
For the few who are able to benefit from this service we are extremely grateful and we continue to look for ways that we can improve our dental service. Manuel, a Quiche Mayan dental health promotor does provide extractions, cleaning of teeth and preventive dental care teaching in the Clinica Maxeña!

As always there is time for a soccer game with the visitors and unfortunately this time the CLINICA MAXEÑA team lost to the DENTAL TEAM!!!

Each day there are patients acutely ill requiring immediate care and often hosptilization. As I write this we are waiting the arrival of the town ambulance to transport an 8 yr old child with probable acute appendix. Another child went yesterday also to the hospital with symptoms of liver mass or hepatitis.

Thank You for prayers and support of those we are called to serve.