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Thursday, May 26: Alegre

We left a little earlier this morning so that we could get started promptly at 8:00 am with the patients in our new location which was a bit further away compared to the previous site. We had a bit of a climb, but it lent itself to views of plantations, housing, the buses of Guatemala, volcano Agua, and more.

We arrived to a clinic with fewer patients compared to the day before in the other location (we had over 600 patients the day before, 465 patients today). We were eager to start, and we were all given our stations. I began in dentistry. It was loads of fun. We joked around with the patients, made them laugh and smile. What better way to see someone’s teeth than to make them smile? The dentist let me and another student observe as she pulled out teeth, explaining to us the process as she went along. We also gave out toothbrushes to several children so that their heartwarming smiles would remain for many years to come.

My next job was to do vitals. I was able to encounter many different, interesting people. I met a cook who told me about the typical Guatemalan food. I met the local high school principal who told me about the educational system in Guatemala. I met a man who was HIV positive (stage one for sixteen years) who told me about how he participates in a program to raise awareness so as to help prevent the spread of HIV. But the patient that impacted me the most was a middle-age women who had such a peaceful and joyous smile. I asked her how she was.

Alegre. Happy.
- ¿Porque? Why?
Porque están ustedes aquí. Because you all are here.

I didn't realize the patients looked forward to us that much. In a way, she assured me that we were making a difference.

I honestly wasn't sure we would have that big of an impact. I came to gain experience, and the views were a bonus. And the views ARE amazing. It's beautiful here. We're surrounded by three volcanos, one of which is active; the mist gently falls down the hills in the morning; the days are mild; the evenings have a cool atmosphere with a calm breeze, even the lighting is soothing as it twinkles over the hills in the night sky which displays Mars and Saturn generously. Truly an unforgettable scene, but not as unforgettable as the woman’s smile. Humanity First has given me and my AED team the opportunity to experience these instances that will stay with me for a lifetime. I cannot wait to continue on.

- Gabriel Martinez, Humanity First student volunteer

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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.

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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.

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