August 2018, Blog by Lauren Smith.
On this day, we had our first taste of the rural village Esperanza in Guatemala. The bus ride was hot and sweaty, with some staggering and beautiful views of the rainforest. There were huts dispersed throughout the area that were the homes to people of this village. As the bus jolted up and down over large rocks and bumps, I looked out the window and was taken aback by the green, luscious leaves and stocks of corn that engrossed the hillsides. What a beautiful, rugged place to call home. When our bus pulled up to the area we used as our clinic, there were Guatemalan women and children swarmed around the cement building, waiting for our arrival. Our first clinic day, I was assigned to be a runner. I helped make flags for the different stations to help us have some sort of organization within the chaos of the pop-up clinic. However, the disorder that occurred as a result of being in a single, hot room seemed inevitable. I ended up helping out in triage and the pharmacy the most. I enjoyed having multiple job roles since I am used to be a float nurse at work. I love variety in my job. The majority of the people we saw were women who were either pregnant, breast feeding, or almost pregnant. Many of the women and most of the children had a skin rash that they complained to be itchy and painful. I have never seen so many cases of scabies! I was relieved to learn that premetherine, which I had treated all of my clothes with, is also the treatment for scabies, as I was in such close contact with so many of the infected patients. This is also the first time I saw the way women carry their babies in a sheet over their shoulder and on their backs. I can’t imagine the dirty looks a woman would get in the United States if she carried her child this way. The other thing I noticed was all the gold caps and gold fillings that some of the native Guatemalans had, and the decayed and rotted appearing teeth that most of the others had. It was sad to see so many kids with decaying baby teeth. Overall, the day was exhausting but rewarding. This was one of the first times I have seen how happy people can be living such a simple life in poverty –and it seems they are so happy because they don’t seem to have been exposed to other ways of living. I felt a twinge of guilt and shame knowing how privileged I was and how terrible we are to each other and to people with less in the US. On the other hand, I was in awe of how a simple life of having less can lead to such genuine happiness. Another successful learning day in the books for me.