- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.fBBcEurs.dpuf Casa de Sion: Volunteer Vacations are Inspiring and Fun and Save Lives

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Volunteer Vacations are Inspiring and Fun and Save Lives

Our two weeks spent at the Casa de Sion in April were incredibly moving and memorable. I’ll share a few of my memories.

Every morning we would start our day at the Casa, where we would eat breakfast cooked by the amazing Dominga and discuss the plan for the day with incredibly organized “Super Mario.” We would then pack up the van and set off to whichever small town we were serving for the day.

Upon arrival in the town, we would check out the space we planned to use for our clinic. A few times we had an actual clinic, and many times we would have a community center where we would set up some makeshift private rooms using chairs, sheets, pieces of wood, or whatever else was on hand.

Each clinical space would be attended by a student and a resident or doctor. We also would set up an intake area for vital signs and history taking, and a pharmacy/checkout area. Our staff of 12 took turns rotating through the various duties every day.

The majority of the patients we saw were women and children, though we also saw a few men. The patients were dressed in their beautiful traditional colorful “traje” and many women would have a baby or toddler snuggled comfortably in their shawls on their back or chest. Their medical concerns were varied, but many had headaches, backaches, and stomach problems. In many towns we used interpreters who translated from the patients’ native Quiche to Spanish to assist in our history-taking.

We felt fortunate to be able to visit Lucia, a young girl whom we had diagnosed with a heart condition a year ago. Since that time, she has had heart surgery arranged by the Casa de Sion, and she has now recovered very well and is energetic and thriving, and has gained 20 needed pounds! She was not too happy to see the American medical foks again, but her parents were very grateful.

Another memorable patient was a young woman with uncontrolled seizures. We were able to get her started on a medication which helped control the seizures and now she can live a more independent life without the constant supervision of her family.

We were happy to see that Nueva Victoria, a town which did not have either running water or electricity when we were here last year, now has both. The women no longer need to hike downhill 4 km and back up carrying heavy water jugs.

I found the people to be reserved but very generous and welcoming. They have so little materially, but shared food and drinks with us and welcomed us into their communities and told us much about their lives.  This enriched my experience and made me feel a strong sense of connection with them. I feel so incredibly fortunate for this, as well as the chance to work with such an interesting and compassionate team of students, residents, doctors and staff. It was truly an experience of a lifetime. 

Kim McDermott MD

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