Sex, Drugs, and Public Health

November 28, 2019

The Kids in Guatemala

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbmosher @ 6:43 am

 You have been very supportive financially and emotionally of this project.  Here’s an update:


Guatemala remains a spectacularly beautiful place in spite of chronic economic stagnation. And there are still two distinct populations: the European-dominated culture most obvious in the cities and lowlands, and the indigenous Maya groups of the highlands.

Distinct Maya groups are distinguished by location, different languages (Q’anjobal, Mam, K’iche and others) and their renown for unique skills. One group is known for its art, another is famous for their skill as merchants, another for their farming etc.

  Saw all three of our kids in Huehuetenango with their families.  Dani is bright and cheerful but has a bad case of scabies. (I’m waiting to see if I picked it up from his hugs). Also, his prosthesis no longer fits because his quadriceps muscle has grown!  Means he’s using the prosthesis, using his leg muscles.

Mario is a smiling, happy boy. His prosthesis is irritating his stump, a problem of sweating and not washing and drying its “sleeve” at night.  We bought him another polyurethane sleeve so he can alternate these and wash / dry after every wearing. Goal is to get him back on the soccer field.

2 year-old Maria screamed and cried as her dad walked her.  Clearly, she was not accustomed to wearing the prosthesis (i.e. the parents weren’t putting it on her).  Our prosthetist made some adjustments, and the girl walked with it a short distance, conniption-free.  He repeated to us that she needed Physical Therapy, regularly. She wasn’t available for this photo of the boys, their mothers, and our prosthetist.

We decided to go visit her family the next day. Scope out the situation.  A long drive over a dirt road, the last few miles by 4 W D pick-up.  Then we parked the pick-up in the road and climbed a very steep, rocky, rain-eroded path up to her house at 7000 feet. My Cardiologist would be proud, since, as far as I can tell, I survived.  Don’t shake my belief.

Pic of Maria Christina, Dad, Mom and us.  Their “house” is a small compound of three adobe huts – square, without door or windows. Dirt floors.  Cooking over an open fire with a single iron pot. Maria has 4 sibs, two parents, two sets of grandparents, and about four others of unknown relation. There was a newborn in an Abuela’s arms, neither of whom looked very healthy.  Their electricity had been cut off (a fight between the for-profit electric company and its 60,000 “customers,” including many who simply tapped into the wires and “stole” the juice). Shades of “Y La Llluvia Tambien.”

 So, it’s not just about prostheses – it’s gonna require a Social Worker, Physical Therapy, frequent visits to assess how well the apparatus fits, and other stuff.

      We charmed a local Pediatrician to oversee the kids and the project at this end.  We made little speeches to the local Rotary club which supports this project (in spirit – no money) and presented them a pretty little plaque of appreciation in hopes they won’t forget us and the kids the minute we leave. A Rotary club in the U.S. is interested to hear more about this.  A Rotary-to-Rotary connect may give the project life beyond Steve and mine. Important since the kids will require revision and / or replacement of prostheses as they grow. The woman in red is a dentist and Rotary president; the Pediatrician wears a jacket. 

We left Huehetenango for Guatemala City and visited a hospital for children. They had 30 cases of osteosarcoma last year, all but two requiring amputation.  There is a need there for prostheses, too.

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