October 29, 2008
Autumn here is not really Autumn with the midwest's cooler days and the changing colors, but after almost 10 years I have begun to understand Fall here as well. The rains have stopped and the pace has slowed after the steady stream of summer visitors. Clinics are slower as many of the men - some with their entire families - have left to work on the "coast'. The "coast" is not really the coast but the lowland where there are huge sugarcane farms. They burn the fields before they harvest the cane so the men work, chopping by hand the burned cane in the heat and humidity. It is exhausting work with little gain. All of the laborers sleep together in one large open polebarn-type building. The spread of disease - particularly sexually transimitted disease - is rampant. Men often come back sick and unfortunately, San Andres now has one of the highest AIDS population in Guatemala.
We have been busy getting 5 babies from our nutrition program ready for their cleft lip and palate surgeries. A group of surgeons from the US will arrive in Antigua next week and we have been working with 2 others missions here to get all the details finalized. Little Fredi out in the Zona Reina is scheduled to go but it has been raining steadily there for almost 2 months. We would like to fly out to get him but probably will not be able to so they will walk three hours over the mountain to the road where they will catch a ride into Uspantan. We will pick them up there either in truck or plane - depending on weather and get them into Antigua. It will probably mean a 3 days trip for them - a mere 100 miles.
We have also had the great pleasure to have 4 month old Enrique Benancio with us for the last week. He is a resident of the orphanage in San Andres but our good friend Oralia (the director of the Home) has not been getting much sleep. She is responsible for 30 other children during the day so we volunteered to help her until he sleeps through the night and gains a little weight. Between the Allison's, Katie and Aaron, and our household, we only miss out on sleep one night out of three - we've all agreed that it is the perfect way to have a new baby in the house.
About 3 months ago little Sebastiana came to clinic in San Andres with the worst malnutrition that I have seen here. She had a huge belly and was edematous and listless with sores all over her little three year old body. This type of malnutrition develops when children have very little protein in their diets. So we began to give her lots of protein along with her milk and vitamins and she began to slowly improve. Her parents thought her progress was too slow so they put her in the nutrition program in the Orphange. I am happy to report she is greatly improved. As I watched her toddle around in the Home the other day, she looked so much like a little bird with her big belly and skinny legs, and I was reminded of Matthew 12:7 when Jesus said, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows."
5 weeks ago