“I have been experiencing pain for about 12 years,” Gaspar told me in regards to his hernia he was having surgery for today. As we talked while he waited for his surgery, he told me about how the hernia had impacted him and his family’s lives.
Hernias are common in men Gaspar’s age and even younger, because of the heavy lifting and carrying required by those who work in the coffee fields. Due to the pain the hernia caused, Gaspar could no longer stay working in the coffee fields, causing him to switch jobs. He said the pay working in the coffee fields was significantly more than the job in the corn fields he has been working in, causing stress for his ability to provide for his family.
“On behalf of my family and everyone here I would like to thank you for the work you do especially with the poverty in Guatemala,” Gaspar told me, and that he looks forward to going back to work in the coffee fields with his son after the operation. Unfortunately, stories like Gaspar’s are far too common in San Lucas. The limited access to medical care prevents many people from receiving medical attention the so desperately need to live normal lives.
Marta, a university student, has had to miss school due to the pain caused by her gallbladder. It would have cost her family a fortune to take her to a private hospital, not to mention she already had four surgeries early this year because of an accident. We talked for hours about everything; what the weather was like where we lived, our favorite books, and everything in between. Despite being in pain and discomfort, she and everyone was happy and so grateful that they were finally going to feel better.
Not only is it the big things such as providing surgery that the patients express gratefulness for but the little things, such as a simple printed picture. Many of our patients have never had their own printed picture of themselves. Grace and I have been running a makeshift photo studio where we take pictures of families, friends, and portraits to give to patients. Maynor was so excited to receive his picture and showed it to anyone and everyone.
“The things you take for granted, others are praying for”- Anonymous.
At home, we have unlimited access to anything we could want and need. The people here have limited access to many of the things they need, but unlimited amounts of joy. These last few days in San Lucas have filled me with gratitude and humility. From giving a father the operation necessary for him to go back to work to provide for his family, to giving a family the first printed family photo they have ever had. This is how we use what we’ve been blessed with.