In November of 2014, Rob Ayers, owner of Ayers Promotions, joined a team with The Healing Hands Foundation to provide medical and dental services to impoverished patients in Guatemala.
Recently, I volunteered for a medical and dental mission to Guatemala. Traveling with a group of around 40 volunteers, made up mostly of surgeons, doctors, dentists, nurses and support help, we headed to Corpus Christi Hospital in Patzun.
My job there is with the dental team where I handle patient flow, assist the dentists, sterilize instruments and whatever else is thrown my way. For 3 days we pulled, drilled, filled and cleaned teeth. There was never a shortage of patients waiting in the halls and we worked long days treating and seeing all we could. This is an impoverished area where, not only do they have no money for this type of treatment but, there is very little opportunity to even get treatment. Over our 3 days here, we treated more than 100 patients with more than 250 procedures.
After Patzun, the dental team traveled to Las Fincas Margaritas, a banana and coffee farm. The 3 hour drive across the mountains and valleys is a sight to behold but, the looks down the side of the cliffs is one that will give you chills, especially in those areas where there are no guardrails. Once we arrived at the farm, it was business as usual where we worked 25 hours in 2 days and treated another 120 plus patients and another 200 plus procedures. The days were long but the reward of seeing the smiles on the patients, the interaction with them and to see how happy these people were having very little, made it all worth it and then some.
On the medical side of the mission, the team remained in Patzun and treated for 5 days there. They performed more than 60 surgeries which included many cleft palates, as it is so prevalent there, a few hernias and a large cyst removal which was about the size of a grapefruit. The poor 16 year old girl had the growth out the side of her neck and had been treated like an outcast all her life, with people moving away on buses and constant stares. This was really a life changing procedure for her!! The team is also going back next year to continue with more cosmetic surgery for her as well. The team also treated a young boy who had jumped on exploding gunpowder to save his little brother. His body was covered with burned skin and he had lost the use of one hand and also had had problems with his knees and joints. The team surgically repaired his hand and cut away some of the skin around his joints allowing him a full range of motion again. I know there are also plans to continue his treatment in the future as well.
This was my 9th such mission and, ever since the first one, it is just something I have to continue to do now. To be a part of changing people’s lives is and incredible experience. The appreciation and love you feel and get back from doing this is a feeling like no other and I look forward to the next one.