Friday, October 30, 2015

Timmy Global Health Brigade - Day 5 in Xela

Text by Albizael Del Valle

The last day of the Timmy Global Health Brigade took place at the Pop Wuj clinic in Quetzaltenango. A great number of patients who were seen on Friday suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure among other things. The regular clinic patients were present on Friday and others who recently learned about the work Pop Wuj's clinic does all year round for the community.

Nearly 70 patients were treated on Friday. Patients came through the doors for follow-up visits and medication refills while others were diagnosed, prescribed medicine, and given the appropriate medicine for their medical problems.

At the end of the day, we said goodbye to the Timmy Brigade Team as they went on their way to Antigua, and eventually back to their homes, continuing to exercise their professions in the United States. We are grateful for this team and their effort to support families in various communities as they struggle to become healthier organisms in a tough socio-economic predicament.

Shanti Aguilar and Ashley Aue, the medical programs coordinators, did a wonderful job organizing this brigade and making sure the activities went accordingly.

Dr. Barbara, Pop Wuj staff doctor, attending patients (Photo by Ashley Aue)
Lubi, Pop Wuj's nurse, registering all patients  (Photo by Ashley Aue)
Dr. Loung his translator are both part of the Timmy Brigade team. (Photo taken Dr. Loung)
Pharmacy staffers split into two teams -- one to fill prescriptions for patients with odd registration numbers, and one for even. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Timmy Global Health Brigade - Day 4 in Buena Vista

Last Thursday the Timmy Global Health Brigade held their most ambitious mobile clinic. We traveled 45 minutes to Buena Vista, a Mam community with a large health center that we were able to take over for the day.

One of our volunteer Timmy doctors pauses on her way to her consultation area on the second floor. In Buena Vista there was enough space to give each doctor, the vitals station, and the pharmacy their own room. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
Patients wait outside the health center to register for the day's clinic. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
We arrived around 8:30 a.m., unloaded the minibuses, and circled up for a quick meeting.

(Photo by Jennifer Grassman)
Doña Ana, the midwife who runs the health center, welcomed the Timmy volunteers and introduced our local translators. Just as Kaqchikel translators helped us in Pujujil, local Mam translators bridged our language gap in Buena Vista.

A Timmy pharmacist and nurse check prescriptions a final time before passing them to a translator trained in distributing medications. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
A student in Pop Wuj's Medical Spanish Program writes up prescriptions after a consultation. Students currently in the program came to Buena Vista in the morning to help with vitals and consultations before heading back to Xela for lunch with their host families and Spanish class in the afternoon. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
Medical Programs Coordinators Ashley Aue (far left) and Shanti Aguilar (third from right) pitch in to distribute medications at the end of the day. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
At each clinic, a volunteer from the vitals station adds each patient's name and registration number to a list on the wall so that when doctors are ready, they can simply check the list and call the next name. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)

By the time the last patient received their medications around 5:30 p.m., the Timmy team had seen 103 patients! Given that on most days we saw around 80, we were thrilled to have been able to serve so many people.

Thanks to everyone for a long, hard day of work!

(Photo by Ashley Aue)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Timmy Global Health Brigade - Days 2 & 3 in Xela and Pujujil

Text by Elizabeth Barnes

Disappointingly, last Tuesday's plans to hold a mobile clinic in Xeabaj fell through—rain was so heavy that we couldn't drive there safely. But our Timmy Global Health Brigade volunteers made the best of the setback. After learning more about Guatemala in the morning's cultural competency training, the group headed out to Fuentes Georginas to relax in the beautiful hot springs.

Then on Wednesday, to make up for lost time, we took the mobile clinic to Pujujil.

Every mobile clinic begins in the Pop Wuj clinic in Xela, where Timmy volunteers double-check all the equipment and medicine for the day before carrying it out to the minibuses. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
Ashley Aue, Medical Programs Coordinator for Timmy, passes a bin up to one of our drivers. About a dozen bags and bins were strapped to the roofs of our minibuses for the journey. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes) 
Our three minibuses left Xela before 7:30 a.m. and drove for two hours along Guatemala's steep and winding roads to reach Pujujil.

Pujujil is a village in the department of Sololá, east of our home base in the department of Quetzaltenango. (Photo by Albizael Del Valle)
Many of our patients in Sololá either know only the Mayan language Kaqchikel or feel more comfortable speaking it than speaking Spanish, so translators from the community stepped up to help our doctors.

Timmy staff, volunteers, and translators gather first thing in the morning for introductions. Kaqchikel translators wore duct tape name tags to make them easy to recognize. (Photo by Albizael Del Valle)
The building we used was not designed for medical use, so our registration, lab, and pharmacy stations and their respective waiting areas were all in the same big room.

To the left, from front to back, are the vitals station, lab station, and registration desk where patients first check in. To the right is the pharmacy and education station with a large waiting area behind it. (Photo by Albizael Del Valle)
Lab station personnel check the results of a patient's urine sample. Doctors referred patients to the Pop Wuj clinic in Xela for more complex tests. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
Nurses measure patients' weight, height, and blood pressure and take their basic medical histories and reason for visiting at the vitals station. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
To preserve patients' privacy, sheets hanging from the walls and ceiling formed individual consultation rooms.

Doctors and their translators brought patients back here for their examinations. (Photo by Albizael Del Valle)
The pharmacy team sets up the huge bins of medicine brought from the United States. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
Toward the end of the day, patients wait in the pharmacy for their prescriptions. Although most of the Timmy medical team spoke only English, Spanish and Kaqchikel translators were always on hand to ensure that patients understood what they were receiving, why the doctor had prescribed it, and how to administer it properly. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
Our Pujujil patients were grateful to receive such excellent medical care in their own community and in their own language. After handing out the last prescription and packing up, we all returned to Xela in time for Timmy volunteers to eat, freshen up, and go to a salsa dancing lesson. Thanks to everyone for a successful Wednesday!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Timmy Global Health Brigade - Day 1 in Llanos del Pinal

Photos and Text by Albizael Del Valle

With much anticipation, we officially welcomed the Timmy Global Health Medical Brigade! This is the fifth time the Asociación Pop Wuj has hosted a medical brigade this year. The medical brigade lasted a week and served communities in Quetzaltenango and surrounding departments.

The team arrived from Portland, Oregon and is comprised of professional doctors, nurses and pharmacists.  Heavy rain welcomed the team at their arrival and continued through the first day of the brigade. Llanos del Pinal was the first stop programmed in this week's schedule for mobile clinic with the team. Approximately 65 patients showed up despite the heavy rain and cold temperature.

All volunteers went to work right away and with the help of local translators, patients were taken care of accordingly.

The team meets before getting started. Ashley [top right] introduces all in the room.
Dr. Carmen Rosa meets with the group of providers before seeing patients. 
Community members wait to see the doctors. 
Lujan served about 12 community children
Doctors spoke with patients through translators in makeshift consultation rooms created by whiteboard partitions.
This large room housed six doctors and a waiting area.
Timmy brigade members pose for a photo after a long day in the clinic. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

La Compra: Buying and Delivering Stove Materials

Text by Albizael Del Valle and Elizabeth Barnes

What makes a successful compra?
  • A 7 a.m. arrival at Pop Wuj (and an 8 a.m. departure to La Democracia market)
  • 14 hardworking stove recipients from 12 families
  • 5 above-and-beyond Pop Wuj student volunteers
  • 3 of their excellent teachers
  • 2 Pop Wuj interns
  • Carmen, Sonia, and Carmelina, who arranged everything (and defy categorization)
Carmelina, our fearless leader, starts the day by buying bricks. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
General Projects Coordinator Albizael Del Valle makes sure the team inside the truck is ready to load bricks. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
Everyone hangs on tight as our truck makes it way through Xela. (Photo by Albizael Del Valle)
  • 36 chimney tubes and 12 "sombreros," doors, and stove tops from the ferreteria
  • 1400 bricks
    (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
  •  24 costales of clay
Each stove recipient brought 2 costales, long, tough bags of woven plastic that we used to haul barro, or clay. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
(Photo by Albizael Del Valle)
  • 12 bags of cement
With the cement truck backed up against our truck, unloading the bags was easy. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
  • 360 cinder blocks
  • An indeterminate but huge load of sand
Navigating the windy dirt roads was often a challenge. (Photo by Albizael del Valle)
  • 2 trucks and 1 SUV to carry everything (and everyone) to el Valle de Palajunoj
(Photo by Albizael Del Valle)

Sometimes we were able to back the trucks right up to the families' door, but sometimes we had to carry everything a few hundred feet to the houses. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
  • 2 beautiful pueblos, Llanos del Pinal and Xecaracoj
The valley lies at the base of Volcán Santa Maria. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
  • 12 cadenas (chains) of people unloading bricks and cinder blocks
(Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
    (Photo by Luke Strohbehn)
  • 6 1/2 hours of gorgeous weather, seamless teamwork, and tireless dedication
(Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)

(Photo by Luke Strohbehn)
(Photo by Albizael Del Valle)
Stove recipients pause with Carmen (third from left) and Carmelina (third from right) at the end of a long morning of material purchases and deliveries. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)
Thank you to everyone who helped load and unload 12 stoves' worth of materials!  This morning we sent two teams to start building the first stoves of this group.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Our New Safe Stove Project Families

Text and photos by Elizabeth Barnes

After months of interviewing, Pop Wuj has finalized its new list of safe stove recipients! These 12 families live in Llanos del Pinal and Xecaracoj, both rural villages in el Valle Palajunoj, and Pop Wuj students will start busing out there to build later this month.

Last Friday, October 9, representatives of the families traveled to Xela to discuss important details of the project.

Everyone gathers at the school at 9 a.m. for the meeting. 
Over four hours, these future stove recipients learned about Pop Wuj's projects, the health and environmental benefits of safe stoves, respect for cultural tradition and Madre Tierra, and construction logistics. Thanks to Carmen, General Project Coordinators Albizael and Elizabeth, Medical Spanish Program director Ronnie, and Spanish teacher and chief engineer Mynor for presenting.

Mynor breaks down the list of supplies that families will need during the three phases of stove building. Pop Wuj buys almost all materials but does ask that families provide basic tools like buckets and find their own sand (which is plentiful and free for the taking in el Valle Palajunoj).

To commemorate the launch of the project, Albizael distributed "before" photos of future stove recipients in their kitchens. Staff took these pictures during the interview process and will also put together a poster to hang at the school.

Isabel, our secretary at Pop Wuj, decorated frames for the photos.
Albizael matches a stove recipient with her photo. 
Stove recipients lean in to admire a photo. Many knew their neighbors by sight but hadn't necessarily spoken before. 
After a long morning of presentations, we paused for paches, bread, and coffee.

Some mothers impressively juggled plates of food and squirmy children.
Carmen closed the meeting by confirming that the families understood their obligations as safe stove recipients. Everyone was on board and ready to commit formally to the project.

One by one, as mothers wrangled children behind them, future stove recipients came forward to sign their names...
...or add their thumbprints to the safe stove agreement.
This Wednesday, October 14, representatives of all these new families will reconvene at Pop Wuj at 7 a.m. for an ambitious day of buying and delivering stove materials to their homes. Stay tuned!