Guatemala Dental Mission
November 21, 2019
Girls orphanage “Mother of Consolation” (Madre del Consuelo) Cuilapa, Santa Rosa Guatemala
High and slow speed Hand Piece set
This was truly a Thanksgiving mission because this year we were able to establish two more dental clinics. It is a dream come true.
In August when I went to Cuilapa the first time I realized that they needed a clinic for the girls’ orphanage as there are too many children who need dental care and it is too difficult for the Italian nuns to transport them to the boys’ orphanage every time they needed care.
I spoke to mother Ilse and she showed me an empty room they had which we could use for a dental clinic. Our prayers were answered and early November the clinic was installed thanks to the generosity of St Mary of Sorrows and St Mark Catholic Churches and donations by members of the HTJH Board of Directors.
We held a mass to celebrate this wonderful gift. There is still much more to accomplish, but this will be done little by little.
November 22-24, 2019. St Francis of Assisi Orphanage, Patzun, Chimaltenango
After leaving Cuilapa, I arrived in Patzun to open another dental clinic at the orphanage run by Franciscan nuns.
We installed the clinic early in 2019, and thanks to the generosity of HTJH Board members were able to purchase new equipment as the old equipment had broken down. A dentist comes between January and October before graduation and works with the children and surrounding communities.
A few months later, the clinic received a donation from a dentist who remodeled his practice and donated 2 more used dental chairs to the orphanage clinic. Some important elements are still missing, such as the headlight; and the clinic needs a new compressor, water air lines and filters. We are hopeful that all the expenses for these parts will be covered early in 2020, so that the clinic can run well and provide a better service to the children, nuns and community
The children are very happy to have a new dental clinic. I love to see their smiles. Many of the children in the community are experiencing serious tooth decay. Some don’t have a toothbrush, their diet is not healthy, and parents don’t supervise them at all. I was able to teach some of the parents how to brush and help their children.
My niece Paola was a big help. She was an assistant to Dr Morales and learned some dental skills, and how important it is to take care of the mouth.
The orphanage is also a nursery for babies and young children either orphaned or removed from their parents because of child abuse. It is difficult to understand how a child that is so precious does not deserve a family or to be loved.
They received blankets, hats, toys, diaper rash cream, baby wipes and so forth…
November 25-28, 2019
San Jose Clinic, Aldea Llano Grande, Immaculada Concepcion, Tutuapa, San Marcos.
Mobile dental chair
Scarves, hats, reading glasses
This was another mission to the San Jose clinic in the town of San Marcos, a great distance from Guatemala City. It is a small hospital run by Franciscan nuns, which provides urgent care to the local community every day from 8.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
As before, I worked with Mother Reyna Barahona. I’m always happy to return to this wonderful place of community support and love.
We started our mission praying for peace on the first day. Every day, children from different communities came for dental care, some of them experiencing serious tooth decay.
Dr Elubina Perez is the dentist at this location. It is a blessing to have her because she speaks both Spanish and the local Mayan dialect.
The children were very excited. They came very early every day despite the cold front. During the waiting time, a sister entertained the children by reading them stories – the Three Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Ugly Duckling. They love the stories very much.
Beanie baby toys are still very popular, as are the flip flops. The children know that to get these items they must take care of their mouths and receive dental care first. This strategy works very well, because some of the children are afraid to come to the clinic. Their love of toys helps them overcome their anxiety and makes them willing to cooperate for the service.
Besides the busy dental care schedule, we had to prepare and deliver grocery bags to the community of Tuijoj, located about one hour away from the clinic.
After much driving, we walked several miles to reach out to the people. We walked on top of the mountains and along some very narrow roads until we could find a place to deliver the grocery bags, reading glasses and a piñata for the children.
I was sad to see people walking from far away just to receive our service, but at the same time very glad to be able to come and be with them.
The “piñata” time was great. Everyone had a good time with Mother Reyna. While distributing the reading glasses, I had an interpreter who speaks Mayan, to better communicate with the people, and meet their real needs. At this place, people suffered dry eyes. I was able to provide for them and give them some relief.
People were very grateful to receive the grocery bags. Their smiles and appreciation were worth the pain and effort of getting there…
There are many challenges - the distances, difficult transportation, communication, accommodation, meals etc., especially in remote locations. But my love for the people always overcomes these.
Many of the children in the locations I visited have lost their teeth because they were not educated about the importance of dental care, for their teeth and for their general health. Now they know better…
again to all the donors, friends and family members for your help. We all reached out as a team to so many people this year from Peru, Mexico and Guatemala. 2019 was a year with many wonderful gifts, and much love, care and compassion.
God bless you all.