KANSAS CITY, Missouri - A team from Kansas City based Medical Missions Foundation returned home from a trip to Guatemala with a lot of stories to tell the friends and family members who greeted them at the gate.
All missions tend to be an exciting experience for those who want to help others from other cultures and countries, but this one contained more excitement than anyone wanted.
The doctors, nurses and non medical volunteers were just ending a week long medical mission in the village of San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala located in a mountainous area northwest of Guatemala City when forces of nature struck.
The Pacaya Volcano erupted, then Tropical Storm Agatha hit. Then came a mudslide that left several people dead.
“Our volunteers quickly shifted gears and began helping in the community any way they could,” said Carmen Gramajo, the Kansas City woman who coordinated the trip.
“Their first task was to help the medical director of the hospital dig his home from a mudslide so that he could get to the hospital and keep it running to treat victims.”
Impassable roads then made it impossible for the American team to leave the way the arrived.
They took a boat to a nearby village then an eight hour bus ride into El Salvador where they were finally able to catch a flight back to the United States.
Despite the difficult conditions, Dr. Doug Girod says the trip was worth it. “To think how hard their life is and yet they are very grateful for all they have and appreciative for what we can do, and yet they struggle day to day for just about everything. It’s very rewarding,” Girod said.
The Medical Missions Foundation team operated from a hospital that serves 30 thousand people, but has no facilities for surgery.
The team ran two operating rooms for surgery during the week the team was there and was able to treat five hundred patients for a variety of illnesses.
For more information about Medical Missions Foundation visit www.mmfworld.org