Medical care is crucial for any part of the world, but not all have easy access to it.
Jordyn Pieper of Loyal, currently a Physician Assistant student at Carroll University in Waukesha, took part in a medical mission trip to Guatemala for five days this October through Hearts in Motion, a non-profit that strives to change the lives of those living in poverty. The mission group of about 45 people was able to provide medical care to over 1,000 in the mountain villages near the city of Zacapa.
“My role during the mission trip was to be a medical provider at the pop-up clinics that we would set up each day, despite only being a student,” Pieper said. “I handed out medications, played with the children, and talked with the citizens of the villages we visited. We also had general and orthopedic surgeons from the States come down and perform surgery for free. People walked hours and stood in long lines to receive vitamins, Ibuprofen, and various other medications that we are blessed enough to get from stores in America.”
One group headed to surgery, another to the village clinics or construction sites. Those with non-medical backgrounds passed out donated toys, shoes, diapers, helped out at the clinics, and completed construction work.
Despite their poverty, the people Pieper worked with were happier and more generous than one might expect.
“It was so uplifting to see how positive the people of Guatemala are despite the circumstances,” Pieper said. “The love and respect they have for each other and others is very refreshing to see. They believe in giving so much to others even when they don’t have much for themselves.”
A memorable part of the trip was being able to help a extremely malnourished woman at the HIM nutrition center and see her good progress a few days later. Another was providing food and shelter to 75 Honduran refugees in the Hearts in Motion house, and hearing their often gut-wrenching stories. Pieper saw Guatemalans set up stations to provide food and water to the refugees, despite not having much themselves, since they knew others needed it more.
Many make a living rummaging through garbage at the Zacapa dump and collecting recyclables that can be resold in the city.
“When we went to the dump, we handed out sandwiches and rice milk to the children. As we arrived, the bus driver honked his horn, and we could see the children running to the main building because they were excited to get their share of the food. We saw many children walking around the dump trying to find useful garbage that they could sell for their families,” Pieper said.
Small fires burn worthless garbage to make room for the new. Each family is assigned a section of the dumpster to limit violence and share equally. “It was heartbreaking to see the conditions that people live in day in and day out,” she noted.
The mission trip overall was an eye-opening experience. “It did not disappoint, and I left Guatemala thankful for all the things I have,” she said. “Personally, I felt like I truly made a difference in people’s lives.”
The group provided 30 pills of Ibuprofen, vitamins, and other medications to each patient toward their symptoms. To assist with the ongoing need for supplies, Pieper is hoping to collect enough to give people more than a month’s worth of medications. Donations can be dropped off at the City Hall in Loyal. See below for a list.
“I can promise you that your donations will go directly to the people in need,” Pieper said. “I have seen firsthand that the donations that have been collected are being used for the good of the people in providing homes, food, and medical supplies.”
She plans to return to Guatemala next October with as many donations as she can bring, and depending on response may send some supplies down with another group taking the trip in July.
For more info on how to help, go to HeartsInMotion.org or email Pieper at [email protected]
Adult Multi Vitamins
Children Multi Vitamins
Children’s cough syrup
Triple antibiotic cream
Adult cough syrup
Lubricating eye drops
Gauze wraps/ACE bandages
Small toys (barbies, toy trucks/cars, stuffed animals, balls, coloring books and crayons)