Updates from Socorro

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The last two weeks have been very busy for us! As I write this update, I am surrounded by child growth charts, on which Sarah is plotting the data we have gathered over the past few months to monitor growth and malnutrition among children in Socorro.

VITAMIN PROGRAM IN SOCORRO

After returning to Guatemala with several heavy suitcases of medicines and vitamins, we interns became a walking house-to-house vitamin delivery service. In about three days, we were able to distribute the month’s supply of vitamins to all of the children and pregnant women of Socorro. Our visits also gave us a chance to check in on children’s health problems. There have been several new cases of diarrhea and skin infections in the past few weeks. We have been able to address some of these problems through performing fecal exams and sending pictures to Peter; many of these children will be seen in our November clinic.

WATER PROJECT

Yesterday, we worked with our community collaborator, Paulino Calva, to obtain water samples from the river that will be our source for the water purification project. We then sped off– as fast as we could on a bus–to Guatemala City, where we submitted the samples for microbiological and chemical tests. As we await the results, we are looking forward to a visit from a member of the team of Engineers Without Borders from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in late November. At this time, we hope to assess and buy land near the river as our purification site.

Sarah holding water sample bottles

PREPARATIONS FOR NOVEMBER CLINIC

We are excited to be in the midst of planning out the November clinics, when a team of doctors will be visiting for several days. Health centers in Guatemala typically do not follow an appointment system and patients often end up waiting for several hours (or even days) to see a healthcare provider. Thus, many of our patients in Socorro are glad to hear that we will be giving out appointments with fixed times and dates. In the clinic, we will focus on seeing children with severe cases of malnutrition and on seeing pregnant women. It will also be the site of our next vitamin distribution, and we hope to provide families with the donations of toothbrushes and toothpastes we received from the dentists of McHenry County of Illinois, from the University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry, and from the organization Plak Smacker in the United States.

GETTING TO KNOW THE COMMUNITY

As we are new to the area of Socorro, it has been our pleasure to get to know individuals in the community. We have been working very closely with two families in Socorro who have allowed us to use their houses for community meetings and clinics, and last weekend we had the opportunity to attend a family birthday party.

Ana Manuela, the birthday girl and her younger brother, Cristian.

Paulino Calva, our primary collaborator, with his children, nieces, nephews, and granddaughter.