MAKING A DIFFERENCE
By Clarissa Fuentes, Executive Director
(pictured from left to right, Andres, Adrian, and Clarissa)
It was another shop offering something newbies in town need, plastic ware: a laundry basket, a dust pan, a dish drainer. This shop was made for us! We exchanged formalities with the shopkeeper.
“Who do you work for?” Doña Vivi asked.
“Salud y Paz”
“That’s not the one with the clinic in Camanchaj is it?”
“Why yes, it is? Do you know of it?”
“They are the ones who operated on my mother’s eyes,” she stated with tears in her own eyes. “She had cataracts for years until the doctors at Salud y Paz did surgery to remove them.”
I tried hard not to swell with pride while celebrating her mother’s wellness. However, inside me stirred all kinds of emotions. In our very first day in Panajachel, I was already bearing witness to stories of restoration that involved Salud y Paz.
The theme for the last few weeks has continued to be restoration. Salud y Paz is not just about restoring eyesight. The work we have, and that teams and donors engage in, is a holy work of restoration: restoration to healthy life; restoration to faith in a health facility and an educational institution; restoration to financial well-being; restoration of families because when one is sick, the whole family carries the burden. Last week I spoke with patients who came from as far away as two and a half hours to receive treatment. I visited the children’s classrooms, observing how they were accustomed to the rhythm of the school year and happy to be at the school they are so proud of. Every day is full of possibilities for the patients of Salud y Paz and the students at Colegio Susana Wesley.
These are exciting times of growth and transition for Salud y Paz! I am delighted to join a team so dedicated to improving the lives of the people in their communities. I celebrate restoration with Dona Vivi and all others whose lives have been improved because of our common work. I personally thank you for being an important part of that work and invite you to continue your support for this vital organization!
NEHEMIAS ATTENDS PUBLIC SCHOOL
by Janet Chichester, Director
The public school in Camanchaj has welcomed Nehemias (bottom right) with open arms! We are overjoyed that when it came time for him to leave Susanna Wesley School, Nehemias found a place to go where he can continue to learn and grow. We were a bit nervous about the transition, but the staff asked lots of good questions and commented that he was a very caring child. They are willing to make the necessary adaptations for him. The director mentioned that it was a wonderful blessing that we had found him and enrolled him in our school. She told us about another special needs child who had received classes at the public school and that he was now able to be a vendor and earn some money. She hoped that Nehemias would someday be able to do the same and told us that it would not have been possible without our intervention. Nehemias’s dad has reported what wonderful progress Nehemias has made and how prepared he is to continue his education at the public school. It is so gratifying to know that our work extends beyond the physical boundaries of our school and project. We are in fact influencing the future!
THREE POUNDS LIGHTER
by Katie Slagle, Surgery Coordinator (middle)
From a distance Juana Quino Panjoj (left), 67, looks like the majority of other Mayan woman living in rural Guatemala. She has tan weathered skin, her long dark hair pulled back out of her face, and wears beautiful, multicolor woven clothing typical to Mayan woman. As she gets closer, however, you notice something very different about her. She has a mass almost the size of her head growing off of her lower neck and shoulder.
Juana tells us this mass has been growing for the last 20 years. As the years progressed and the mass grew, so did the pain. The pain has restricted her abilities, and she feels like she can’t help her household as much as is expected. With the strange appearance of the mass, her social life has become limited to family. Sadly, even a few of her brothers and sisters refuse to have any type of relationship with her.
Juana says for years one of her sisters has urged her to have surgery, but she refused over and over again. Juana says, “I was afraid. I was afraid I would die. I was afraid they would put me to sleep and I would never wake up.” Finally, a friend of her sister told her about a clinic called Salud y Paz. He explained to them that he had surgery there and felt very safe. They took great care of him and treated him well. After hearing this Juana finally made the decision to go to the clinic for a pre-surgical consult.
Juana qualified for surgery, and after 20 years parted ways with the 3 pound mass that brought so much suffering to her life. After her surgery Juana says, “I have had a change. I feel different. I am happy and excited to complete my tasks again.” When asked if she will miss the mass, she laughs, shakes her head and says, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no.”
Regional Surgery Center Update
By Wayne Wiley
We’re excited to share that our 3-phase project to construct a Regional Surgery Center at our clinic site in Camanchaj, Guatemala is ahead of schedule. Phase 1, the construction of a new house for our guardian, Tomin, and his family will be completed by the end of the year. In the coming weeks, workers will be painting, tiling, and installing plumbing and electrical throughout the home.
Once this phase of the project is complete, our guardian will move into his new house, vacating his current home. Phase 2 of the project will include renovating that building to become our new, 2-level medical and dental clinic.
This $400,000-plus project is on its way to becoming a reality. So many miracles are occurring with each visiting surgical team that it is not hard to imagine what can be done once the new facility is complete. We will not only be able to bring in additional surgery teams, but we will also be able to keep the clinic open while surgery teams are working at the center.
We are seeking support for the Regional Surgery Center project. Here’s how you can help.
- As an individual or group, raise funds to sponsor surgical equipment. You can view the giving catalog at our website.
- Give toward the construction of the surgery center.
- Host a construction team who will help with construction.
- Share this story with your friends.
- Keep Salud y Paz, its staff and volunteers, and the project in your prayers.
Thanks for making a difference for the people of Guatemala.
Let’s Celebrate: Birthdays at Susanna Wesley
by Janet Chichester, Director
Birthdays—an event celebrated worldwide in many cultures. During the years I’ve worked with the kids at Susanna Wesley School, I’ve noticed that while the kids are very excited about their birthdays, many of them don’t know when their birthday is. Sometimes, their parents don’t know either. Some of the children are too poor to be able to celebrate, and I think some just have too many kids to remember when all of them were born.
At school, we have always celebrated birthdays, usually once a month for all the children who were born in that month. It started out with cookies that the kids got to frost before eating. Now we have brownies!
A big part of our birthday celebration is the birthday hug. The birthday kids stand up in front of the class, and we sing “Happy Birthday” (“Feliz Cumpleaños”) in English and in Spanish, and then, all the children line up to give hugs to the birthday boys and girls. After the birthday hugs, each child gets the opportunity to choose a book to keep and take home with him/her. Each teacher also gets to pick a birthday book.
Year-round, the kids in the school come up to me and ask when their birthday is and when they will get their book (even the children who have already had their birthdays this year!). I have never seen happier children than those receiving their birthday books.
What a blessing—to do one small thing that results in such big joy.
Changed for the Better
“I am not the same as I was yesterday”
by Katie Slagle, Surgery Coordinator
Three years ago, Santa Morales Pilo’s life changed drastically when her second cataract completely took her vision. “I was depressed and cried all the time,” she remembers. “I couldn’t make tortillas or wash the clothes, but most of all, I missed visiting my children.” Santa became confined to her home. Her family had to help her with routine daily tasks. She couldn’t even eat on her own.
Then, a few months ago, one of her son’s friends told her about the surgery teams who serve at Project Salud y Paz. Along with her family, Santa decided to sign up to see the eye and see if he could help.
When the day arrived to see the specialist, Santa was not nervous. “I had faith in God that everything would be okay,” she says. “We were praying and thanking God for the doctors who came to help us.” Santa arrived at the clinic at 4 a.m. and anxiously awaited her consult. When she qualified for surgery and received her surgical appointment, she was overjoyed.
On the day of her surgery, Santa was not nervous at all, only excited. The surgery to remove her cataracts went well, so she was discharged to her home and told to come back the next day for a post-operative consult.
The day after surgery, the surgery team removed Santa’s eye patch, and for the first time in three years, Santa could see. As tears of joy poured down her face, she exclaimed, “I am not the same as I was yesterday!”
Immediately after leaving the clinic, Santa went to visit her son, where she was able to see her 6-month-old grandson’s face for the first time. “He has a cute face; he’s very handsome,” she says.
Santa is so grateful she was able to receive this surgery that she would like those who helped her to know that she is praying for them and their work in the United States.
Project Salud y Paz and its U.S. counterpart, International Hands in Service, seek a talented and capable Director to lead the Susanna Wesley School. Project Salud y Paz has served over 100,000 people in its two medical and dental clinics and school since 2001. It is a joint mission of International Hands in Service, The United Methodist Church and the Iglesia Evangélica Metodista Nacional Primitiva de Guatemala. The school was begun in 2009.
Nearly 75% of Guatemala’s Mayan people live in extreme poverty, subsisting on an average income of less than $1 each day. Guatemala’s governmental institutions are unable to meet the medical, dental, social and educational needs of its rural, indigenous populations. Salud y Paz is able to provide high-quality, low-cost services to bridge the gap in services and help build bright futures for the Mayan people of this region.
The Director oversees all aspects of the operations and planning for the Susanna Wesley School and reports to the Executive Director of the project. The school currently has three classrooms with 54 students enrolled in preschool to first grade. There are currently 3 teachers, a part time physical education teacher, and one aide. In addition there are three staff in the kitchen and an Assistant Director.
Applicants for the position of Director Susanna Wesley School should be experienced in education, school administration, or other educational related field. Applicants are asked to make a minimum two-year commitment to the school and Salud y Paz. The next School Director will be an excellent communicator; willing to be a champion of the school; a fundraiser; have a passion for education, a good supervisor and coach; a person of high ethical standards; have strong religious faith and deep compassion. He or she will be culturally sensitive and proficient at speaking or learning Spanish and committed to providing a quality educational environment where everyone, no matter his or her abilities or disabilities, will continue to learn and grow. Click to view the full Director, Susanna Wesley School Job Description.
To apply, send a résumé that includes complete information about your educational background and employment experience. Please include a cover letter that explains why you are interested in this position, how your gifts and experience make you a good fit, and what your salary needs are for living full-time in Guatemala. On a separate sheet, include the names and contact information for three professional references.
The position is open until filled but interested persons are encouraged to apply by September 1, 2014.
Please send completed electronic application materials to:
International Hands in Service, Project Salud y Paz
(806) 318-8747 or