Humanitarian Mission Trip to Guatemala, 2009


The 2009 Mission included a number of people from earlier missions and they were amazed to see the improvements in the Aldea of Timushan, the village where CCAMRE first started to work. The evidence we see of improved living conditions, health and dental care, and sustainable economic activities confirms that our activities are bringing notable life style improvement to these people. The improvements in Timushan were nothing but remarkable to the returning volunteers. The Faith and Hope (Fe y Esperanza) Community Centre is used constantly by many groups for meetings, bread making and sewing activities as well as for dental and health clinics.

The Mission 2009 was busy as in addition to all the normal projects we are involved in we continued to bag and distribute the items sent by container in late 2008. In addition to many tools and other implements we distributed food packages to 1500 families in 18 villages throughout the region of La Union. As usual our mission members were exhausted by the work.

In the summer of 2008 the villages of La Union, were devastated by torrential rains. The many mudslides destroyed homes and caused many deaths. CCARE came to their aid with funding sent for food and later in the year with a container of relief goods donated by many of our members, friends and companies willing to help. After many delays in getting this container to the area, our mission members traveled to La Union to pack and distribute these goods. 1286 families in 13 villages located in the surrounding mountain areas of La Union were given food and clothing. Our main focus was on those villagers who had not received any assistance to date since the mudslides of 2008. The food sacks contained a bag each of flour, beans and rice. Each family was also given a bag or suitcase of enough clothing to outfit a family of four including some kitchen utensils, blankets, sheets and towels. The first week the team unpacked, sorted and repacked the contents of the container for distribution during week two. It was a privilege to help the very grateful Mayan Chorti people and to be invited to visit a few of their homes so that we could experience firsthand life in the Merendon Mountains.

The dental team headed by hygienist Eva Pine worked in La Union at the Dr. Russell Grover Clinic, with Dr. Richard Morris. In 5 days of clinical work treated 115 village people, traveled to the mountain villages to do assessments, treatment and dental care teaching. Most of the work was done at the clinic with the support of the intern Glendy Salguero and Dr. Garcia. This is the 2nd year of our partnership with the University of San Carlos of Guatemala city and their intern will work at the clinic for the current academic year and in addition the intern will visit the villages with the mobile dental unit to provide dental care and assessment to the villagers.

The medical team headed by Dr. Jennifer Conners worked in Timushan, Pena Blanca and Volcancito with the support of La Union Community Health Centre under the leadership of Dr. Eric Hernandez. They were fortunate to have assistance from Dr. Yaqueline from Cuba and Dr. Antonio Salguero as well as local nurses Johanna and Jovita. Approximately 375 villagers were assessed and treated for a variety of medical conditions. Medications to treat parasites were administered to the patients after taking histories and vital signs. Education and presentations were given to the villages on the prevention of scabies and parasites. This year Johana was able to help our medical team mission. She gave several information sessions in each village focusing on prevention and treatment of upper respiratory infections and the importance of personal hygiene.

The sewing project lead by Cecilia Bardsley focused on the village of Volcancito to work with a group of women on sewing hand skills, group development and to introduce the vision of a cooperative and how to apply the concept to their community. Through group consultations, coordinating sewing material sent in the container and working on this project, this sewing group made magic. Through self assessment the leaders were able to evaluate the skills level of the women that put the wheels in motion and with evolving group dynamics they worked on three projects, small quilts, shoulder bags and carrying case to hold a cell phone or glasses. Throughout the mission group talks were an important tool of this process and they addressed issues of leadership, commitment, established basic group norms and guidelines and after many discussions two of the women agreed to become the group leaders to coordinate their work. This sewing group in Volcancito has a very strong core group and their future growth looks promising. CCAMRE applauds their efforts and supports their willingness to improve.