Wednesday, May 25, 2016: Light of Guatemala
The morning started bright and early at 5 o'clock sharp. The sun hadn't peeked out from the clouds yet, but I already knew that a great day was ahead of us. With a hardy breakfast, a chug of Cielo water, and my AED team and I were headed out the door to our third day of clinic.
At the clinic today, I was among the first round of vitals volunteers and was able to see so many patients, many with kids latched to them, but all of them happy to be in the clinic. The kids would hide behind the parents and grandparents, watching me take pulses and blood pressures. What I had feared most about volunteering in Guatemala was the language barrier. I thought it would be impossible to communicate as well as I had hoped with those I aspired to help. However, as we were taught during the training session before clinic began, was that more than anything to "keep a smile on your face" and everything would work out. And so, with that in mind, we had another successful day taking vitals and seeing so many patients.
It is one thing to recognize the impact you have on others, but another to recognize the effects others have on you. The Guatemalan people are so full of happiness and love for all those around them, that it is hard not to feel welcomed. I only wish there could have been more done to help such wonderful people.
My next task, probably one of my favorite, was the weighing station for the younger patients. Using the limited amount of Spanish that I knew, I weighed kids from a few months old to 14 years old. Holding babies, comforting scared kids, and being able to interact with kids of all ages by just taking weights was a dream come true. Kids can make any day and any situation ten times brighter. I saw this same light in the kids of Guatemala.
One of today's memorable moments was running into an old friend. He was an elderly man that I had the privilege of taking vitals for the day before. He was very kind, always smiling, and very sweet. Wednesday morning, I saw him in the line of patients and as soon as he recognized me from across the room we were both laughing with familiarity. He came and gave me a hug soon afterwards. Later that day in the pharmacy, he walked in and gave me (another hug) and thanked us for the wonderful help we were able to share with him. He stood there a while and talked to my fellow volunteers and he asked us when would we be coming back, because he didn't want us to leave. Although we can't fulfill that need, I am happy that he was able to get the checkup, medications, and donations from the clinic and to know that there are people that really care. It was an unforgettable experience.
Despite how little we have done, their gratefulness for our presence was immense. I feel that more than what we could ever do for them, the people of Guatemala have instilled in each and every volunteer the sense of humility and joy; despite any of their circumstances, they were always kind and happy for everything.
All in all, we were able to see 645 patients in just a few hours.That was incredible. Today was our last day in this clinic location, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience. Everything became easier and more familiar since our first day in clinic. Each and every volunteer worked hard, with such passion and compassion in their hearts to do their part to help. I couldn't be prouder to be a part of this AED team than I am now. And with this being my first ever medical volunteer trip, this certainly an unforgettable one. But more than how I felt, I am happy that so many people were able to get the vital things they needed to live strong, healthy, longer lives. It is hard not to fall in love with the people and the country while in Guatemala.
I am happy to have been a part of this opportunity to help others and to experience this the type of compassion that was evident in all aspects of this medical brigade trip.
- Annie Samuel, Humanity First student volunteer
Humanity First is registered in 43 countries across 6 continents, and has been working on human development projects and responding to disasters since 1994. These have included the earthquakes in Turkey, Pakistan, Japan and Iran, floods in Africa and Latin America, hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) , tornado's (Kansas) and wild fires (California) in the USA, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and conflicts in Eastern Europe.
Since its inception and IRS registration in 2004, Humanity First has been focused on spending most of the raised funds on direct program related expenses. As a result, more than 90% of its funds are in that expense category. This is achieved through dedicated volunteers in its management, and program operation teams.