From the Nanaimo News Bulletin, writer Rachel Stern tells us about the doctors who will make the trip, Heather Smith and Terri Storey.
In Canada, hospitals are viewed as a place to get better. In Guatemala, many people view them as a place to die.
There are few hospitals in the country. Those that do exist were built with foreign aid in the 1980s and are understaffed, funded and equipped.
The health care that exists is for emergencies and is only accessibile by a lucky few.
The majority of the country’s population lives in poverty and most Guatemalans could go their entire life and never visit a doctor. They often live with disfiguring, painful or life-threatening health conditions that could be easily fixed in Canada’s medical system.
Those conditions pulled on the hearts of two Nanaimo women who felt compelled to act.
Heather Smith and Terri Storey, sterile supply technicians at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, volunteered for Project H.A.N.D.S., an organization that creates medical trips to perform free medical procedures in the country.
Doctors, nurses, sterilizing technicians and translators volunteer their time to help, but each must pay their own way.
The Canadian medical staff work with Guatemalan doctors to provide free surgeries to poor residents. This year the team is going to repair cleft palates and offer genealogical surgeries to correct things like a hernia.
For more information about Project H.A.N.D.S., please go to www.projecthands.org.