Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Yesterday was a busy Monday

Yesterday was a busy Monday ...it started off really well.  

We were fortunate to have a group here led by Jenny's mother. One of the women, Jenny's Aunt is a mid wife.....so we took advantage of having her here to give a talk about breastfeeding to the women who were collecting cans of formula and milk for their babies, toddlers and children with special needs for milk. ....some of the children are special needs and others are children who need milk for various reasons. We always prefer breastfeeding, but sometimes it is not possible.

The talk was translated from English to Spanish to Kakchiquel. It took time to do this but it was worth it because while many women say that they understand Spanish, when it is translated into their language of Kakchiquel, then they really grasp what is being said.

During that time, we had a mother bring her one month old baby girl in who has a severe cleft palate. This mother has had four children but has never had to bottle feed a baby before. She had received the formula several days before hand and when I saw her, I asked her to show me how she is preparing the baby's bottle. She brought out a thermos that she had purchased and poured the very hot water into the bottle, scooped out the milk and then to my horror, was about to give the bottle to the baby. I stopped her and gave her a talk about how the milk has to be cooled down, she was not carrying a bottle of cold water with her and had not thought that the water should be just warm and not hot. We gave her a talk which took about 15 mins translating from Spanish into Kakchiquel..so that it was very clear. We also showed her how to test the baby bottle on the inside of her wrist....I think she was a bit horrified about wasting the milk drops to test the heat but we assured her that as soon as she ran out of milk, then we would make sure that she received more. We told her several times to not water down the milk when she is getting to the end of the cans...this is a something that mothers do here in an attempt to stretch out the milk formula, it is watered down so much that the babies are hungry and it defeats the purpose of feeding them. This mother is doing a good job in caring for her little girl....she was happy to hear the mid wife congratulate her. As with every baby I have seen with a cleft palate, the mothers cover their faces with a piece of cloth so that other people cannot see them. I wanted to take the baby to the talk and show the other mothers a baby with a cleft and explain what causes this and how they need special care till they can be operated on ....and once they are operated on, then they are absolutely fine, but I knew this mother would be very embarrassed if I did that.

After the talk the mid wife attended to several babies with fever...and we were, thanks to your donations, able to give out tylenol , ibeprofun etc for infants.  While doing this I realized that our medicine cabinet has become very depleted.  We are in need of Ibeprofun , tylenol etc for infants, children and adults.   One of the mother's came to us for help with migraines and we were able to give her pain killers..which she says really helps her get through her migraines.
We are also in need of hydro-cortisone cream and antibiotic cream...in case anyone is coming down or sending donations down.
We really appreciate the help with medicines so much.

It was a hectic morning. We had a young man here , a medical student who has volunteered for several years in Guatemala, he is making a documentary about health and volunteering in Guatemala.   He was happy to be here for the talk with the women and then went on a tour with Susie of the pre schools in Tierra Linda, El Barranco and finished at the Elderly care program in San Jorge.   It was a pleasure to meet this young man ....anyone who has him for a doctor when he graduates...will be very fortunate!

Jenny, Kristen  and two volunteers interviewed all the mothers who are receiving milk , this was a time consuming process but one that is so needed to make sure that the babies are receiving all they need,.......then with the help of Jenny's mother and Jenny's aunt, the infants and toddlers were measured and weighed and photographed with their milk or incaparina.  Incaparina is a very healthy, vitamin enriched cereal which we are giving to toddlers and children who are no longer in need of the milk program but are in need of extra help with food.

We told the mother's about an upcoming clinic we are hosting later this week with Global Hands of Healing. It is the 3rd year that they have come to work with us and we are very much looking forward to having them with us.
We have the clinic in Panajachel on Friday, Saturday in San Jorge...( yes, unfortunately, we don't have this week end off!) Monday in El Barranco and Tuesday in San Antonio Palopo.

Laura interviewed a woman who had been brought to us by  an Indigenous woman, Rosa  who has helped us for years.  She never asks for help for anyone unless the situation is very bad and this poor woman is in a bad situation. After interviewing her, Laura told me ...this woman needs everything! 
Rosa is also an animal lover and she told me the story about two children being bitten by a suspected street dog in the neighborhood of Jucanya...( which means across the river) . Apparently the family members had then decided to take matters into their own hands and had gone around clubbing dogs to death in the streets. There are a lot of stray dogs here but there are also a lot of dogs who are owned who are on the streets. Most dogs here are very timid and scared of people because they have been badly treated.  Some react aggressively to the bad way that they have treated and do bite. The over population of dogs is one of the reasons  that we encourage people to bring their dogs to the spay and neuter clinics that we hold ....to not only relieve the enormous suffering of puppies on the street but to also stop the over population and reduce the amount of dogs on the streets which are a health hazard for people ,not only problems with being bitten but also the amount of dog feces. . Unfortunately, funds have been very hard to come by and we have had to stop our monthly clinics until we are able to raise more money for the animal program.  It is $25 US to spay and/or neuter a dog or cat.   If you know any vets. who would like to come and volunteer, please encourage them.
Rosa was going to attend the meeting that had been proposed in the neighborhood where they were suggesting that no one be allowed to feed street dogs..so that they can starve to death. She was going to represent Mayan Families in asking people to be responsible for their animals and ask the Municipalidad to instead of spending money on possibly  poisoning animals( which was something else being suggested)  to use the money to spay and neuter through our program.  In reality , there are very few people who feed street dogs, they live more on bags of trash that are left on the street.

After talking to Rosa, I was approached by two women, one holding a very new baby.  The mother of the baby brought out three photos of her 8 yr old daughter, Heydi.   One of the photos was of Dwight and I with Heydi when she graduated from her  local  pre- primaria and went onto elementary school.  I really didn't know Heydi, she was not one of our sponsored children,  we were the Padrinos for the graduation ceremony and we had our photo taken with probably about two hundred children that day, we congratulated them and presented them with a small gift.  
Through tears, Heydi's mother told me how she had given birth last Sunday at 5.p.m. and on Monday morning at 5.am. , Heydi had died.      Heydi had been bleeding from the mouth and the nose for two days. Her parents had taken her to the local health center but they couldn't help her, they had then taken her to the local hospital and the hospital wanted to do a lot of tests on her , but all the tests had to be done at private clinics which cost money...the hospital does not have the funds to do the tests.   The family could not afford the tests, so they took Heydi home, hoping that she would get better.   The hospital said that they could give Heydi a free ultra sound but not till the following week.  By that time, Heydi would be dead and buried.  With the mother in labor , Heydi bleeding, the family was in panic and not knowing what to do.   Someone told the father he should take Heydi to Xela...to a hospital there. a 2 hour trip...he borrowed the money and rushed Heydi to the hospital...she was admitted but it was too late.  Heydi died very soon after being admitted.  The hospital gave her a death certificate that says she had gastro intestinal  and something illegible.      The family, now devastated by this loss ,is now in even a worse position.  They now have a large debt of $250 US to pay to the funeral parlor...they had to pay for the transportation of Heydi's body back to Panajachel.  They also have to pay $140 US that they borrowed from family members to be able to pay the taxi that took Heydi to Xela and they have to pay the hospital fees that are approx. $120 US.   All these debts , apart from the family, have started to incur interest because they could not pay with in three days.

The father sells on the street. He has not been able to work for at least a week.  His wife cannot help him because she has the baby and her own overwhelming grief and shock to deal with.
They also have four other small children at home.   So food has been scarce.  Jenny's mother and their group gave the family a 100 lb bag of corn and a $100 to help with their debt.  We contacted the funeral parlor and put this money directly into their account.  If anyone would like to help this family, they would be so grateful.  This debt and food is an issue for them right now. This is an example of a family that has never come to us for help, that have always managed to make enough money to be able to support themselves, send their children to school but when a tragedy like this happens, they just need a helping hand to be able to get over this horrible situation.

The father was very upset with the treatment that he had received in the local hospital, that they had not been able to help.  But I also understand that the hospital does not have the funding.
We were fortunate last week to be able to donate medical equipment to the hospital.   A man who is the administrator of a small public hospital in the U.S. collected machines , that were in excellent condition , but being replaced in his hospital. He kept them in his garage until he could afford to send them down to us.  We presented them to the hospital, great machines, cardiac equipment, great examining  tables, etc.  The hospital was so grateful....and at the time, the hospital administrator explained to us , that they were really short of funds. They are short of simple things like plastic gloves and towels as well as the major items.

We had another woman come from Aqua Escondido with a letter from the church there.  They are hoping that we may be able to raise funds so that she could have a piece of land.
( there is still land for sale in the huge piece where we purchased land for the 8 families).
This woman is a grandmother. She is caring for her 2 yr old grand daughter.   The child's mother went to Huehuetenango, a big town close to the Mexican border,  to get a job that she had been promised.  She has not been heard from now in nearly 6 months.  The grandmother does not think that she would just not communicate.  She is very worried and very upset about her daughter but she has no way to look for her.
In the mean time she is now trying to raise her grand daughter, she does not have enough food for her and the child is sickly and needs medical attention.  This grandmother has never owned her own piece of land, she has always rented and always had to move around.   The church is asking us if we can help her purchase a small piece of this land so that she will have some where secure to raise the grand child. The grandmother is worried that she will not be able to work and maintain the little one without some help.

These are just some of the stories from the people yesterday.

I heard Jenny say to Laura...." I feel like I want to cry but I just don't have the time".

  It was that kind of day yesterday. Sharon

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