San Lucas, Toliman is nestled between three vocanic peaks next to Lake Attitlan Guatemala. I had the privilege to join a team from Minnesota for a week in November.
One of the most important things I learned is to appreciate the infrastructure in place in developed places like the U.S. and Canada. All of the things that you might not think about as you go about your work day or as I go about my regular clinic days in Calgary are in short supply in this area of Central America. The basics of clean air, clean water, transportation, animal control, working plumbing, safe roads, and for medical providers proper equipment and regular clinic staffing are in short supply. Many people can not afford to buy medications even if they can be prescribed properly and for more complex problems or emergencies they can not afford transportation to a suitable medical facility that might be located an hour or more away. One initiative of the San Lucas Mission is to provide an ambulance which will transport these patients in need to facilities that can provide proper care in emergency situations.
I supported the surgical team by doing pre and post-operative exams, ultrasound measurements, and YAG laser treatments. The teams from Minnesota have been able to transport equipment to the San Lucas Clinic that allow for cataract surgery and eye examinations. The mission clinic also does dental work and has outreach workers that visit the outlying areas to provide care for common problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
The pictures on the San Lucas Mission website show the beauty of the Lake Attitlan area and the unique local dress. http://www.sanlucasmission.org/ In spite of the dismal living conditions the people of San Lucas were smiling and welcoming. It is a place of contrasts with the local women carrying large parcels on their heads, dressed in their hand-woven skirts, talking on cell phones. San Lucas at the intersection of ancient Maya and the modern world.
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