Apparently, there was a protest on Sunday at the building to protest the re-election of the municipal government. Additionally, due to recent and ongoing rain (a familiar theme for this trip), there was flooding that would have prevented the people living up the mountain from getting to the clinic.

stimma inside medical clinic

So, we turned the bus around and, trying to make the best of the situation (as usual), we went to the public hospital in Jutiapa for a tour. The hospital director showed us the emergency department, the men’s and women’s wards, and the pediatric unit. Amelia, Zack’s wife, also showed us the OR where her son Lisandro was born. We also saw their Diabetes Clinic, which has been in operation for just over a year. The idea was to be able to provide free diabetes medication (Insulin, Metformin, etc.) to anyone who needed it, but unfortunately they haven’t received any funding or donation that allows them to provide medications, so the clinic checks blood glucose levels on their patients and provides lifestyle and diet counselling. This is very difficult as most of the patients will be unable to control their diabetes without medication, and won’t be able to afford to buy the medications or check their blood glucose levels regularly.

After visiting the hospital, we headed back home… finally arriving back at the Doppenberg abode at 12:00- five hours and zero patients later. However, always willing to make the best out of any situation, four of us (the best four, IMHO) headed over to the construction site to see how hard they’ve actually been working while we’ve been working our butts off at the medical clinics. (Full disclosure: I actually only went because I’ve been talking about it all week and couldn’t take the teasing if I didn’t go. Plus, I knew it would make an awesome blog post if I went, and I take my job very seriously).

volunteers hard at work

We pulled up and promptly got to work. The best way I can describe it is: lift this, carry this brick from this pile to that pile, shovel these rocks into a bucket and then carry them over to the smaller rocks, and so on. I finally learned what a “footing” is, and also saw what “rebar tying” means. There was wheelbarrowing, mud fights, and me carrying two full buckets of cement while six grown men stand around watching me. It seems like we made a lot of progress today, and walls went up pretty quickly thanks to the mud brick laying talents of Mark, Kinder, Matt, Greg, Ana and Syd. Unfortunately, today was Mark, Peter, and Joey’s last day, so they won’t be able to see the final progress we make tomorrow (I use the term “we” loosely, as I’m pretty sure I was not exactly helpful: at one point, Joey tried to send me and Veneta to a tree a little while away to get the “corner bricks” and carry them over. Needless to say, there were no corner bricks and it was hard for me to take anything other task he gave me seriously).

volunteers take a quick break for a picture

And finally, just when we thought the day was ending, Joey looks over to one of the many cows that hang around the construction site and proclaims “hey, she’s birthing a calf!”. That turned out to be 100% accurate. We then all crowded around the cow and watched her try and give birth for a few minutes. Hugo, one of the Guatemalan men working on the site, pulled out a rope and went over to the calf and indicated that he was about to pull the calf out of the cow. With the help of Peter, Joey, and Jason, the calf was wrested free from its mother (“they just pulled a cow out of that cow!!!!”), who then proceeded to eat her placenta and lick her calf clean (I am told this is normal cow behaviour. I still can’t get behind it). We watched a little while longer while the calf tried to get on her feet before finally getting back to work.

volunteers get to see the miracle of life

And then finally, we took the extremely bumpy and “cozy” truck ride back to the Doppenberg’s.  A great and exciting day for all!!


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STIMMA (Short Term International Medical Missions Abroad) is a registered Canadian charity with no political or religious affiliations, connecting medical, pharmaceuticals & support personnel with communities in need.

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