San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – #HopefortheChildren

Yesterday a group of volunteers made the trip to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.   Quetzaltenango, is the second largest city in Guatemala, with a rapidly growing population of about 200,000 residents. The massive influx of people coming to the city from the mountains in search of a better life, have been welcomed by a lack of new jobs being created or job training opportunities. These families typically settle on the periphery of the city, now areas of great poverty. Rural poverty account for about 71% of the country’s population (7 out of every 10 people). &...

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San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – Meet Daniel

"Education is a key to unlocking knowledge”   Christmas of 2013, the children of Mike and Cindy Rudolph (long-time dedicated volunteers and participants with Medical Missions Foundation) presented their parents with a very special gift: a scholarship fund to use in San Lucas Tolimán. This gift was then granted to Daniel, a now 23-year-old San Lucas local, who wanted to do his part for the community, specifically in the local hospital.   After conversations and guidance from Dr Tun, it was decided that one of the largest needs for the hospital an ...

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San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – Meet Mayra “Master of Languages”

Even though Spanish is recognized as the official language in Guatemala, 21 different Mayan languages are spoken, especially in rural areas.   Kiche and Kaqchikel are predominant in the San Lucas and surrounding areas. A town of 17,000 people and 90-95% predominantly Mayan. US Spanish translators sometimes have to have our own translators, as a majority of our patients are Mayan.   Meet Mayra, our Kaqchikel translator. A nurse of 11-years at the hospital In San Lucas and a native of the town. She was asked to return to the hospital in 2006, after a ...

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San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – Meet Pablo Benedicto

Since 1994 Pablo has served his community with much care, humility, and a lot of energy, as the hospital care taker.   When Pablo was a 12-year-old child suffered from tetanus. After this discouraging diagnosis, it was an unheard of when he did recover. Pablo said he felt “it was a miracle.” Because of this, he promised to serve in the hospital, as an offering to do his part, caring for those that needed it like him. Sixty-eight years old now, he is still proudly serving.   He is the first one in, and that last one to go every day. He will open ...

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San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – We are one

There is a certain feeling when you see the sign “Bienvenidos a San Lucas Tolimán” after the four-hour ride through bumpy roads, potholes and speed bumps. After hours of massive walls of vegetation and rocks from the mountains that surround you on each side. After scenes like an accident between a “camioneta” (chicken bus) and a semi-truck which causes traffic to stand still. We see that sign and we know, “We are here!”   As we hit the main road of this small town we run into a traffic stoplight and then a second one, and we realize, “this is ...

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San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – How it all started

As I depart on my 9th trip to San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala with Medical Missions Foundation, I decided to write this blog as reflection on how it all started. Overall, two words immediately come to my mind. “Humility Lesson.”       My first experience with Medical Missions was when I encountered a group that was participating in a medical mission to Antigua, Guatemala. As a Guatemalan local myself (born and raised), but a transplant to Kansas City over two decades ago, I had the pleasure to be introduced to this organization as I was ...

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Mission to San Lucas — By the Numbers and From the Heart

We returned from Guatemala two weeks ago, which has given me time to reflect on our week in San Lucas Toliman.   The achievements are impressive -- 81 surgical procedures performed on 69 patients, 70 water filters distributed, countless medical consults by cardiologist Charlie Porter and the clinical staff, training (both informal and formal) of the local hospital team.   The numbers tell only part of the story. More relevant is the impact a mission has on the participants, patients and local community. Lives are transformed. Hope is restored. Special ...

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El Jefe de Agua

While Medical Missions Foundation’s core mission always will be to provide surgical and clinical services, we sometimes add complementary health programs. These programs are designed to address root causes of the medical cases we encounter. Missions to Uganda and Romania have added programs on burn prevention and women’s hygiene, for example.   In San Lucas Toliman, Denny Moser has spearheaded a multi-faceted effort to address clean water issues -- a common challenge throughout the developing world and a root cause for many of the clinical cases we encount...

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Like Father, Like Son

I met Daniel Castro (age 53) and his son Juan Danilo (age 18) on Thursday. Danilo was prepping for surgery that would remove a lipoma from his belly.   The father was no stranger to the MedMissions’ team. Daniel had a double hernia repaired during last year’s mission. For Daniel, it had truly been a life-changing event. Before the surgery, he had been in constant pain and was forced to reduce the time he worked on his farm. Because of Daniel’s disability, Juan Danilo had to pick up a larger portion of the farm work, which, in turn, reduced his time in ...

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Not Every Story is a Fairy Tale

I struggled with how (or whether) I should write this story…   On Wednesday, a 4-day-old boy was rushed to the Hospital Obras Sociales. He was not breathing and had turned blue. Members of our medical team joined Dr. Tun and his staff as they tried in vain to revive the infant boy.   As with any death, especially an infant, the team was devastated. The boy had been born by C-section in the nearest hospital with surgical capabilities -- in Solola, about 1 ½ hours away by car. He was released two days later and returned to San Lucas Toliman. &n...

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