Wednesday, March 25, 2009
A bigger picture.
I'm going to try to put into words part of what has been on my mind these past two days.
We've spent the last two days handing out vitamins and medicines to people in remote villages. These people have no electricity, no running water, and the majority of them have only corn tortillas and coffee to eat every day.
Our team saw some severely malnourished children today and yesterday. Bryan explained that if a mother isn't able to breastfeed her baby, she'll give that baby soda in a bottle if they can afford it and if they can't the baby will drink coffee from a bottle. These people don't realize that there is no nutrition for a baby in soda or coffee so that is all the baby will get. This is one of the reasons for the high mortality rate for children in this area. Bryan comes in with his teams to educate the people but even with the knowledge of what a baby needs to survive, the majority of the people can not afford to provide it. So Bryan gives those people baby formula and liquid vitamins.
Another big problem is worms. Bryan explained to us tonight that the people here get the parasites from walking through animal feces and being in and drinking contaminated water. So many of the children we saw had distended bellies and Bryan tells us that these distended bellies are filled with worms. If the families are fortunate enough to have enough corn tortillas to feed all their children, the very little nutrition the child receives from the tortillas is consumed by the worms before the child can digest any of it. I can go into further, horrible detail but I will refrain from doing so on this blog. If you want to know more, ask me.
The good news is that Bryan is able to give these people worm medication that kills the worms and keeps them away for six months. We saw about 400 people both today and yesterday and gave out worm medication to all who needed it. Bryan visits about 137 villages with different teams throughout the year. Some of these villages he visits every six months, some of them every three months if the conditions are bad, and some of them only every year if their conditions have improved enough. So this means that Bryan and the teams that come help him are making a huge impact on the health and ultimately the quality of life of the people in this area.
I feel so grateful to be a small part of this. I've realized over the past two days how incredibly desensitized we really are in the states. We are so busy with our day to day lives that we don't have time to pay attention to what happens in other parts of the world. Many of us put ourselves in extreme situations of stress just so that we can have a nicer car or a bigger house or the latest technology or this or that. Now I realize this is a huge generalization, and we are going through tough economic times in our country, but I think you'll agree that we as Americans are still very fortunate despite our current economic difficulties. Unfortunately, it really took coming here and actually seeing how those living in this area live for me to realize how extremely fortunate I am to have all that I have at home. Every time I look at a child here all I can think about is my daughter and how very, very fortunate I am to have the means to give her everything she needs to be healthy. It opened my eyes to a much bigger picture and I will never take what I have for granted ever again. That is why, as much as this is a ministry for the people here in Guatemala and even though I came here to serve them, this really has been even more of a ministry to me.