October was a busy month for me. I was in Guatemala the week of October 14th.
Part of this trip was spent in Pa K’in, where we were attempting to iron out the bugs in our diabetes program. Wicha is now in charge of this, and she is doing a great job. Every diabetic in the program is receiving weekly visits now, to reinforce the need to continue taking medicines regularly and to check blood sugars. One of the greatest challenges to diabetic programs anywhere in the world, not just Guatemala, is that people stopping taking medicines or adhering to their diet when they start feeling better. Wicha is in charge of making sure this does not happen.
We had an emotional encounter with one family. The matriarch of this family has advanced Parkinson’s and she has been progressively declining. In the space between this and our last visit, she has taken to bed and is refusing food and drink and drifting in and out of consciousness. The family was tearful and effusively thankful for “all that we had done” for their mother. Actually, we have done nothing for her medically; we have simply tried to be a supportive presence.
Another part of the trip was spent in Chiq’a’l with Ixkamey’s family. Part of this trip was personal, since I am very close to her family and enjoy spending time with them. Ixkamey and I talked a lot of business too, since she is heading up all of our census and survey work in Chiq’a’l and elsewhere. We are working through the bugs of two large survey projects we are planning for this winter.
I spent one day in the Socorro down on the Bocacosta. We have an exciting potable water project in the works there. The University of Illinois Engineers Without Borders will be doing the system design and implementation, and Wuqu’ Kawoq will be providing the community connection and doing the fundraising. Most of the day was spent with friend and colleagues from the village laying the groundwork for this.
Finally, I spent two days teaching midwives about the safe and effective use of herbal medicines. One day was spent in Iximché (Tecpan) and the other in Chiq’a’l. Both groups of midwives were very engaged and very smart, and the sessions were so successful that we have a second round scheduled for November (Thanksgiving). I hope to have some pictures of these classes up soon. We also delivered 50 copies of the Hesperian Foundation manual to the midwives during these sessions.