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Women’s & Children’s Health Camp: Second day of camp in Chiapas, Mexico March 14th, 2017

A new day was ahead of the team as they were awakened at 6:30 a.m. to loud bangs at their doors, courtesy of the student team leader; however, it was Day 3 and our second day at the clinic! The team had an informal team meeting the night before to debrief and to see how we could enhance our service. The team today was now better acquainted with the area, stations, and roles and now felt more confident and comfortable of how to run the clinic. Being more organized and oriented allowed for the opportunity to gain more experiences through volunteering in different roles, such as shadowing with the general and pediatric doctor, and with gynecology. We also had team members who took part in learning and giving cervical screens with the nurse. A station that mostly everyone encountered at some point was the pharmacy. The general consensus was that it was the most difficult station due to learning the medications and providing patient instructions. However, with patience, time, as well as assistance from our Spanish-speaking members and volunteers, we learned and prevailed.

Although we were not as packed today upon arriving, there was a constant flow of people throughout the day. After the first clinic day, we found out that the most recurring problems in the community that affect all ages involved bad nutrition and dehydration. Due to this, the team focused on providing the nutrition presentation centered around these problems. Our Spanish speakers presented these and they were well-received by the patients. Many women were attentive during our presentations and expressed their gratitude about the information shared. A key component to the Women’s Health camps are to have regular population analysis and assessment of needs. Therefore, this program includes collecting electronic health surveys from the ladies. The UT Austin team did a great job collecting these health surveys that would allow us to better serve this population next year.

While most of the team was settling into their morning stations, David, the HF Guatemala director, took a group of five members to go out to visit the school that we adopted over next couple of days, a second part of our camp. When they returned, they described the eye-opening drive to the school, situated over 8,000 feet above sea level in the clouds, where they encountered a different environment than what we had seen these past days. This rural, mountainous area may have contained more beautiful natural scenery of the Chiapas highlands, but it also contained severe poverty. Women were seen walking without shoes and many children wore tattered, makeshift clothing. However, their mini-trip wasn’t focused nor defined by those factors; it was defined by beautiful, happy children who greeted them in the classroom and whom we would help provide much needed assistance to for the final 2 days of the camp. In these final days, we would assist with focusing on improvements that would affect the kids specifically, through things such as school uniforms, classroom renovations, adding a playground for the kindergarteners and school supplies.

By the end of another successful day at the clinic, we ended up seeing 168 women, childen and some men. More women were interested and taking the cervical cancer screens. We educated as many women as we could about the importance of these cancer detection screens and how the cervical cancer deaths amongst indigenous populations are higher than the rest of the country. We hope to start crossing the cultural barriers that prevent women from taking advantage of these free cervical cancer screens. We also educated women on domestic violence, mental health and women's nutrition, all rampant issues in this population. In the future, we hope to expand in our education to young boys about domestic violence.

Afterwards, the team was ready to explore a little more of our homebase town, San Cristobal de las Casas, with the other volunteers before they were to go rest and prepare for another wonderful adventure! We look forward to the next two days, in which we will be working with the school children and helping provide them with the learning environment that they deserve.

“During the ride to the school, it was polarizing to the see the beauty of the scenery coupled with the poor living condition of the people. Despite all of this, the kids we saw in the school were filled with joy; a truly heartwarming scene.” - Anthony Diab, Student Team Member | Humanity First - Texas Chapter

"This was truly an invaluable experience getting to meet all the different families and volunteers. The children were especially amazing and didn't let the language barrier get in the way of our fun!" - Kristal Okeke, Student Team Member | Humanity First - Texas Chapter

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