Editor’s note: Umma Amina, RN, is a nurse at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. She volunteers with the Glens Falls Medical Mission Foundation, which since 1996 has served the needs of underrepresented populations in Guatemala. She returned to Guatemala this month and sent this dispatch on April 16.
Midweek and we are seeing a minor epidemic of varicella from the people of Ojo
de Agua. Most of the patients have healing or healed scabs, so for the team this is a good time to see them as they are no longer contagious. For the patients, this is a huge relief to know the worst is over with. All they require now is supportive care of the scabs with simple remedies such as hydro-cortisone ointment.
After seeing patients for their chickenpox issues and giving them medications for the next six months until the fall mission arrives, we slowly move our gaze to their feet to offer them a pair of shoes. Sometimes they will timidly ask for shoes. We take the patient back to the “Zapatos Corner,” where they shyly choose a pair of shoes for themselves and as many family members as they like.
After saying our goodbyes and handing them their medications and shoes, one
sweet woman gifted us bananas from her farm in exchange for our services. At this moment compassion, humility and gratitude transcended the barriers of race, religion, socioeconomic divide and nationality. A blessing emerges in this exchange. It’s remarkable for both our souls: For us to be able to provide western medical healing and for her to be able to provide us with a soul healing via experiencing the true nature of humanness through the qualities of compassion, humility and gratitude.
The bananas were delicious and a welcomed daily snack for me!
Special Thanks to my friend Saena for donating shoes and Doctors Joanne and David Robinson for bringing themselves (for the past 9 years!) and the donated shoes to the clinic in Nueva Santa Rosa.