Last week our youngest daughter Charity had an opportunity to go on a humanitarian expedition to Guatemala with a group called SHe (Singular Humanitarian experience). Though she has been on several similar expeditions with our family this one was a “singular experience”! About 45 single adults traveled to small, remote villages in the Polochic Valley in the northeast area of Guatemala where the local dialect is Q’eqchi’ and Spanish is like a foreign language. Interestingly our son-in-law spent his LDS mission in these same villages many years ago.
South America is always such a delight to us! On their way to the villages they stopped at Antigua where they found some spectacular local “color.” Could these women selling their beautiful textiles outside the walls of this magnificent old church possibly realize the beauty of the scene below?
In this group of expeditioners, one doctor, a medical student, two nurses, a nurse practitioner and two dentists were invaluable in training the others in the group who were mostly novices to help set up a makeshift clinic on the site. You never know when those folding tables are going to come in handy. We’ve used them for almost everything except….a medical clinic! Even more importantly the medical team was teaching the local practitioners how to do perform medical procedures safely. By the end of the week the two people on the left of the picture below knew how to extract teeth…a crucial asset to the surrounding villages! The SHe volunteers also provided teaching workshops for local rural teachers from all over the area and business training for local women turned budding entrepreneurs.
Our daughter Charity even learned to pull teeth! This was accomplished partially through the direction of the dentists on the expedition and I’m sure partially because her great grandfather was a country dentist. It’s in the genes!
Of course part of the fun was getting to know the villagers…especially the kids. Somehow language is never a problem with kids!
These terrific young adults also put up all the walls for the construction of the first hospital built in the entire mountain region. Wiring these pre-fab walls together was a challenge, as well as a lot of fun! The local village boys came everyday and worked diligently until sunset alongside their new gringo friends.
There’s nothing like teaming up with villagers who are so grateful for help from these great-hearted North American friends. Of course I think the expeditioners themselves are helped much more than the locals as they experience the happy faces and warm hearts of those who do so much with so little!
To learn more about Singular Humanitarian Experience and the great work they are doing with LDS Single Adults and those in need globally, visit their website at: www.singularhumanitarian.org. You can also read more about Charity’s experience on her blog.