On the fourth morning of our health care mission, as the team assembled for breakfast, we thought back to last night when a plaque was presented to our group honoring the connection and interaction with Vivamos Mejor. In the presentation speech, Dr Carlos Flores from Vivamos Mejor, stressed that many non-profit groups contribute to the cause, but it is The Penicillin Girl Project that works so closely together to make the lives and healthcare of the people a true priority. This made us feel proud that, even though we are a small organization, we do have a major impact on the lives of those we treat.
And so we all began the last day of the mission in uniform, helping each other set up our appropriate stations. Health care screenings are being completed by volunteers and medical students from Guatemala. Prevention of disease is being stressed and fluoride varnish is being applied by the medical students to all children and adults screened as a preventive measure. In just 4 days, we have accomplished hundreds of preventive and emergency treatments including sealants, restorations and prophylactic cleanings, and extractions. Since this health care mission is possible only once a year for our humble organization, teaching the people how vital oral care is to the body became a priority for us. Education and prevention was stressed as we began to understand the lack of access to medical care the 9 communities of Santa Catarina have.
For some of us, this started as a health care mission where we could gain experience in the field of our profession and doing good service. As the days passed, this journey quickly became a voyage of discovery to that would change each one of us in a different way. The mission trip was an eye opening experience that made us realize that many things we take for granted in the United States is a luxury for the people of Guatemala.
Every mission trip has an unexpected factor. We never would have expected to be so emotionally involved. As we began to treat the beautiful and appreciative people of the 9 communities, we felt empathy, gratification, sadness, and even love. Marcel Proust has a famous line: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” As this journey came to its conclusion, we can say that we not only depart with a new vision of our goal to give back to people in need, but we do so with a new heart.