Baltimore Clinic (Coastal Village)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Today’s clinic was a bit surreal, we arrive at this coastal village via boat and disembark on the beach. The scenery was picturesque, the air was breezy warm, exotic birds fluttered close by skimming the water to retrieve small fish in their beaks, and children in the water, cheerily playing but very focused on the newcomers. The medical team is in high spirits, I cannot tell if this joyful mood is due to the beautiful surroundings or because this will be our last clinic for this trip? I am cheerful for both.

It was my teams turn today to complete a community windshield survey for a village, I am looking forward to this experience for everyone before has enjoyed their village tours. The village health promoter helping us today is Miguel. We started our journey from today’s clinic area and traveled by foot through the village and learning about what the community resources are. We learn of a couple of their income resources, they dry smelt fish caught at the beach and then dry the small fish on large black mats, and package them for sale, a second income comes from selling charcoal, the process for this is burning wood covered by soil which then produces the charcoal for sale.

The village includes two churches, one Catholic and one Evangelist, a large school with three classrooms, a large playfield for soccer, a small tienda (store) which holds food, household products, and some medicine. I am surprised to see antibiotics for sale at the tienda. The homes are all surrounded by fences constructed of barbwire, and the homes vary from traditional materials of wood and palm roofing to concrete structures. One house had a satellite dish which was uncommon. The transportation modes include, boats, walking, bicycle, motorcycle for the villages and the finca (estate) owners have vehicles. For employment many villagers need to leave for two-week periods, to work at finca’s to provide income for their families.

Today’s village tour indeed provided insight into the life of a Guatemala villager and understanding of the struggles they face. The community resources for income are not enough to sustain families, and family members needed to travel for additional income which takes them away from their loved ones for up to two-week periods. We learned that the local school teaches in Spanish and not the traditional language of Quiche, this method could potentially affect the customary native tongue, they could lose this unique language.

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