Humanitarian Mission Trip to Guatemala, 2016
On March 23rd. I left for Guatemala to prepare for the arrival of CCAMRE humanitarian mission members. Fifteen volunteers left the comfort of their home to start the long and tiring journey on a mission to help others. We sincerely appreciate the support they gave to our effort. The only time the communities in the Merendon Mountains of Guatemala see a Physician or Dentist is when CCAMRE arrives and we could see the happiness in the natives faces on our arrival. The volunteers on this humanitarian mission worked tirelessly for two weeks, enduring the heat, dust and much physical and mental difficulty. We visited 5 villages and attended to more than 1000 patients; Dentists Dr. Russell Grover and Dr. David Silverstrom from the USA, and Medical Doctor, Dr. Yohana Ayala from La Union, Guatemala, all did some truly remarkable work. The lineup of patients was overwhelming. One of our aims was to evaluate the ongoing projects and programs that we had previously initiated in the villages; The Sponsor a Child Program, Stove Program, Scholarship Program, Breakfast Program, and the Senior Program; I thoroughly enjoyed evaluating the seniors program; the seniors are always enthusiastic to share their life and happy that someone will spend time to listening to them. The highlight of this year’s mission was the inauguration of the 2 room addition to the school in Volcancito. We are appreciative of the Guatemalan people; especially the volunteers, the Government institutions, the Ministry of Health, and the Guatemalan Embassy in Ottawa for facilitating our work and for the problem free entrance of the medicine into Guatemala, and especially for protecting our wellbeing. Guatemala’s Mayan indigenous population have long been neglected and deprived of education, health and employment opportunities. As a result, many live in poverty and segregation as do the Mayan Chorti whose home is in The Merendon Mountains, by Hilda Rossi.
SOME MISSION MEMBERS EXPERIENCES
Going on the Humanitarian Mission to Guatemala is the most amazing and the most heartbreaking thing I have ever done. This was my second time going to the Merendon Mountains and it was great to be able to see and be part of the other projects that CCAMRE is involved in. as well as the Dental Mission It's incredible what has been accomplished in the years since CCAMRE has been involved but at the same time there is still so much to be done. It is very powerful to be able to impact the lives of others in such a basic way. The smiles on the faces of the villagers that we interact with make it all worth it!! Being back home and finding out that we have lost such an amazing member of the CCAMRE family has been very difficult to believe, by Jennifer Woodworth.
Guatemala is a beautiful country of mountains, volcanoes, rainforests and flowers. It is a country that loves bright colours. It is definitely a place for the senses. Sadly, among this beauty there are areas of abject poverty. There are places that make you feel as though you were transported back a hundred years or more in time. The Merendon Mountains is one of those places. The Mayan Chorti people who reside there live in adobe huts with dirt floors. Families of 8, 10 and more people live in 2 and 3 rooms. Children are dying of respiratory problems from the wood burning stoves used in poorly ventilated homes. Children having children, with no hope of changing their lives, because they do not know better and they have no way to get off the mountain. They suffer from malnutrition and mouths full of decay. On the faces of children, we saw excitement at the expectation of getting a gift. The adults have a stoic look of acceptance. The first day in the mountains I had such excitement for what I was going to do and accomplish. By the end of the week I was just overwhelmed with what needed to be done. This was my first mission but it will not be my last! by Sharon Grover BSc. RDH.
I have been on between 6 and 8 missions altogether, I can't remember the exact number. I've helped in the Dental Clinics, I've traipsed around the villages checking on the new stoves, if they are being used correctly, were the family really in need a donated stove from CCAMRE. I've helped co-ordinate the trucks leaving La Union for the villages, in fact I've helped in a number of different ways. This year I believe was the most rewarding, interviewing the youths receiving CCAMRE scholarships. I not only had a glimpse into their lives, but also the lives and hardships of their families. How if it wasn't for CCAMRE these youths would not be going to high school or university. I feel very privileged to be part of the scholarship programme, by Roy Baker.
I have been in the dental field for over 20 years, I never thought of doing mission work before. Working with Grover Dental Group opened up my eyes and gave me that opportunity to do something for others in Guatemala. This is my second dental mission and I hope to be a part of many more, I feel that this is something that I need to do. CCAMRE and many volunteers are doing amazing things for the people in the Merendon Mountains. So much is needed on a continuing basis. I have met so many wonderful people with big hearts, by Mary Jane Pedro.
My experience as a first time volunteer with CCAMRE was amazing. As you know, I spent two weeks with the team. The first week was focused on the dental team. The team worked so well together considering the circumstances and conditions. Everyone came together to organize the clinic so well and the local help (ie drivers) were so amazing in everything they contributed to each day. The 2nd week I spent with a small team focusing on the sponsor a child program and general help with the villages of Volcancito and Pena Blanca. We interviewed the children and their parents, visited their homes and tried to integrate into their daily life as much as we could in one week. This was an eye-opening, very emotional yet very rewarding week. I've returned to Canada with a renewed love and appreciation for what I have here, by Lisa Bellis