Women’s & Children’s Health Camp: First day of camp in Chiapas, Mexico March 13th, 2017
It's here: Humanity First's first big Women's and Children's Health camp in Mexico. After many Women's Health camps in Guatemala for the last 2 years and a small trial in Mexico, we were ready to expand to Guatemala's neighbor: the state of Chiapas, Mexico.
For the University of Texas in Austin (UT Austin) students, the day began at 6:30AM with the daily door-knock from the student leader, Usama. After a delicious breakfast at the beautiful hotel, the team set out to the clinic at approximately 8:00 AM. As we got closer to the destination, it was quite apparent that we were in an impoverished neighborhood on the outskirts of San Cristobal de las Casas. The building was a children’s daycare, but was set up as the clinic we were going to be occupying for the next couple of days. The walls were decorated with children’s paintings, both on the first and second floor, and there were already patients there eager to get checked. The basic setup of the clinic was comprised of 6 sections: registration, general vitals, the waiting/educational area, the children’s activity center, examination quarters for cervical cancer screens, pediatrics, general, and lastly, the free pharmacy. The student volunteers also thought of setting up a children's activity area, which was a big hit. The UT Austin team consisted of 18 volunteers, 4 of which were Spanish speakers, and several others who were intermediate speakers. The rest of the team comprised of Humanity First Guatemala staff, who tirelessly set up the camp, local staff, and Humanity First USA medical volunteer coordinators.
The clinic was opened at 8:00 AM, which was when we had the highest amount of traffic, and after more than 8 hours, were served approximately 164 women, children and a few men too. Occasionally, men came with their wives and went in to see a doctor, as well as elderly men. Many who came in were locals to the area. We did have some, however, that mentioned they traveled quite a distance when they heard about the camp. It wasn’t surprising to see indigenous people in Chiapas, but what was surprising was realizing how many still spoke the native language of Tzotzil, some of which did not know Spanish. We learned about the diversity of the population that we served, serving Catholics, Christians and surprisingly, we learned was that in San Cristobal there are also four Muslim communities, too. It was heartwarming to see our diverse team serving a diverse population with only love and equality. It reminds us again, that we are all on the same, only that some of us were privileged by birth and not entitled to more basic rights than any other human.
After a successful Day 1, we are looking forward to what the rest of the week has in store!
"Just like everyone else, I didn't know what we had in store for Day 1 at the clinic. However, to my delight, I started my shift at the children's activities station and although they may have stolen all my energy, they definitely stole my heart!"
- Leslie Carrizales, Student Team Member - Humanity First - Texas Chapter
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.