Timmy Global Health in Guatemala by Raquel Perez and Nile Abularrage

by tuftsigl
Aug 14

As our time in Guatemala draws to a close, we have many thoughts running through our minds. There is nothing about Guatemala that we will not miss when we return to the United States. Everything from the simplicity of life and the happiness of the people to our work in the clinic will remain fixed in our minds until the next time we can return. The experience as a whole has been, and will continue to be, very important in both of our lives.

            The main reason for our visit to Guatemala was to work in the medical clinic with an organization called Pop Wuj. Of course we are not medical professionals at this point in our lives, so we were only able to do certain aspects of the diverse work that the clinic performs every day. We were able to work in triage where we recorded the history of the patients’ present illnesses and measured their vitals. Since there was waiting time involved between when the patients saw us in triage and when they got the chance to see a doctor, we were always done with triage before the patients had completed their consults with the doctors.  This meant that we were able to move to the pharmacy to begin filling prescriptions for the patients who had finished their consults. We were able to remember the original conversations we had with the patients and then see the diagnoses that the doctors made in their consult and which medications they prescribed. We then were the ones who would explain to the patients how to use each medication and what its function was. Our other job in the clinic was translating for doctors from the United States who didn’t speak much Spanish. This was a unique opportunity to learn about the practice of medicine while helping the doctors communicate effectively with their patients. Both of us found that this was the most fulfilling and interesting job that we were able to perform in the clinic.

            We have been gaining a new appreciation for the importance of health in the lives of every single person. Treating patients is a way of addressing all sorts of problems in the lives of individuals. One of the chief problems that healthcare in a country such as Guatemala can address is extreme poverty. In Guatemala, where a very small percentage of the population is educated beyond a middle school level and the poverty rate is around 64%, just being healthy enough to work is a huge asset to every single citizen. We heard all sorts of cases of patients who were having pain that was too much to work through or sicknesses that prevented them from going to work every day. We were able to see that every single treatment we provided was helping someone to earn the money they need to survive. We realized that in the United States, we have become accustomed to always having access to healthcare, but in Guatemala, healthcare can be regarded as a luxury. With this in mind, providing free and low cost medical care has been a service that will enormously impact the lives of each and every patient that we are able to see.

            It will be very difficult for both of us to leave a community that we feel we have become a part of, but we have had a very fulfilling and productive trip, and our only complaint is that we can’t stay here for longer. The month flew by, and we are both hoping to return as soon as possible.

Add new comment