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Emerging Education: March 1, 2017

Waking up this morning we were greeted by a volcano skyline covered in fog and an amazing breakfast. Once the initial morning grogginess disappeared, the team started chattering about what would be in store for the day. Today was our third and last day of working in Jocotenango, and we were all excited to go back to the clinic and start work.

Upon arrival at the clinic, we were greeted by patients of all sorts — including some waiting for the eye doctor. In the past two days patients have been registering to get their eyes checked, and today they were getting exams that could help them with their cataracts and other issues. This was especially cool because a few members of the team were able to assist the eye doctor and some of the nurse volunteers administer eye drops and help with the various tests they had done. This was a huge perk of staying in the same location for more than one day, as many patients were able to return for the eye doctor as well as the dentist.

The three days spent at Jocotenango were especially cool for me because I was able to witness many people who had background knowledge in health. While taking vitals, many would ask if their blood pressure was OK or if it was too high; others would ask for blood sugar tests and tell us they had diabetes. There was even a little girl, no older than 11, who told us she was nervous as we took her pulse that it would not be healthy. After school each day, many boys and girls would flood into the clinic, eagerly waiting in line to see the doctors many times for just check-ups.

Working in Jocotenango the last few days, it became obvious to me how important education was. The people of the town wanted to learn about their health and living well, and it was obvious that a lot of parents tried to show their kids the best they could on how to live a healthy lifestyle. However, it was easy to see from similar diagnosis that many were lacking the education or accessibility to be able to reach their peak health. Many people were aware of the disease they had, but were unaware of the lifestyle changes that could help prevent or even change the course of their illness.

While we were there, we began handing out pamphlets on nutrition for pregnant women, and it was so awesome seeing so many women take them eagerly. Once, I saw a little girl reading it to her brother, smiling and laughing.

It was awesome to be able to get these women some information on pregnancy and even basic nutrition, as many never get that. It may be small to some, but to these women, this pamphlet can help make both them and their child at least a little healthier.

To many, some of these problems have obvious fixes: eat healthy, get exercise, drink water, rest well. But what if your lifestyle does not allow for that? What if you do not even know these are things that can make you feel better? It was amazing that there was an interest in health, but a reminder that so little is taught. Health education is such a huge subject with so many topics, from physical to emotional to sexual health and everything in between. Many of these ideas are not even covered in the schools in Guatemala, and these are things that are often taken for granted in the U.S.

Leaving Jocotenango, I was hopeful seeing the interest and knowledge in health that so many people had. There is a start on schooling and with time and effort, there could eventually be a more comprehensive health education provided.

Tomorrow, the team will be working in a new location. Stay tuned for more!

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