So today was our final day and we were "gung ho" and ready to go. We were tired and at the same time looking forward to giving it our All on our last day, in our last village. The nurses of ISHI wanted to "Go out with a bang!" We were a little worried because we were expected to see about 700 patients in this village, and the people spoke a Mayan dialect, so we would need an interpreter to translate from English to Spanish to Quechi, and with families of 8 or more, we knew it would be a very long day. Either way, this team of amazingly hard working women were ready to go.
We endured another very bumpy ride where we all needed Miami J collars to survive and finally ended up at the village. We were supposed to set up at a school and when we got there, the school was in session. Since we have been here we have been setting up at empty schools because most of the schools are on strike, and have been on strike for months.Just like nurses at UMD, the teachers want more pay and better benefits. So the kids just sit at home or go farming or fishing with their parents. But surprisingly, this school was in session. That was our first issue. After some time we realized that our representative (a local pastor) who works with Jungle Medic, was supposed to go see the mayor of the town and principal and set this up a week ago, but did not do that, so the people didn't know we were coming. Issue # 2. The children would have to leave the school to go get their parents in order to receive treatment, because we could not treat a child and dispense medication without parental knowledge or consent. (Not just an American rule :)
We were so eager to work some of us including myself begged to work. Never have I begged to work, but I and other teammates were actually willing to wait about an hour for the children to go home, get their parents, bring them back to the school, line up and receive treatment. Will work for free and will even beg for it!!!
Soon after we decided to wait, we found out there was a political fight in the next town that included tire burning and many riots, the night before.Issue # 3. It is election season here and the people are very very serious about their politics. Once we found out about the riots, we decided as a group to close shop and head out, to ensure that we made it back to the US on Tuesday in one piece. We were all so discouraged that we did not get to triage or treat any patients, and we were especially sad about not giving out any vitamins we had bagged the night before. Before we left, we wanted to help just one more person, and that is what makes this team amazing. But our safety comes first. Can you imagine if we made it onto CNN? I mean I love Anderson Cooper, but don't want to meet him because I'm in a Guatemalan jail or hospital status post riots.
I think God knew we needed rest because we have been working so very hard out here. I mean Bryan and his wife Marleni both said no team has worked as hard as us, because we would come home from a clinic day and continue working. I am proud to say we saw about 1000 patients this past week, cleaned and organized both his pharmacy and ER and made a difference in the lives of the many people we touched. The best part is they made a difference in our lives that will always be appreciated, and I am grateful for that.
PS-We ended up having a nice day at a hot spring waterfall and had a lovely boat ride into a canyon, and then after that relaxed poolside while discussing our mission as a group. I'd say we deserved it.