Who am I?
I am a naturopathic family physician, practicing primary care for patients of all ages and backgrounds. I have worked with patients in the United States as well as in Cameroon, Nicaragua, Belize and 8 years ago in Guatemala. I still have the most beautiful tapestry quilt I have ever seen that I purchased from a woman in Antigua the last time I was in Guatemala. It has reminded me for years that some day I may return.
What will I be doing?
I leave February 24th for Guatemala City where I am joining a small team through Catalyst Resources International (CRI), who have been working amongst the orphans and poor there for several years. I will primarily be seeing patients in a rural clinic on a regular basis and working with orphans. As a naturopathic doctor, I am a primary care physician. Included in my training and experience is a background in teaching healthy lifestyle choices for the body, mind and spirit. Through relationships and education patients are often empowered to make changes that remove the root causes of illness and improve their whole health. I will also help improve the clinical operations and facilitate volunteer teams from the US in order to more effectively support the community there.
In partnership with the CRI team, I will learn and assess what is already happening in these communities. Therefore, my role will likely adapt as doors open for me to serve. For example, I hope to become involved with the local schools in order to build relationships and opportunities to mentor, teach healthy life choices and discuss the Bible. As I learn about the people and the community, I would like to consider working with them in growing and cooking healthy foods.
For how long?
At this time, I plan to stay for 3-6 months. Depending on my fit in the community and sufficient financial support I will consider staying longer-term.
What is the need for healthcare like in Guatemala?
Around 50% of Guatemalans live below the poverty line, many of which live in rural villages like the one I will be working in at CRI’s medical clinic. I hope to help empower the community through the love of Christ to see sustainable solutions to their socioeconomic and health problems (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual).
For example, through past experiences working with patients the developing world, I have been able to help patients make small changes in their diets. Although they are quite poor and often sustain themselves on rice or corn-based diets, high in carbohydrates, incorporating foods that have protein, iron and fiber can provide improvements in chronic health conditions. Learning to grow local foods that are new to the community or use the resources in the plants that grow around them can greatly improve a community’s health in a sustainable way.
In Guatemala, most women are in the home most of the day cooking over an open fire. This exposes many women and children to smoke on a regular basis. Thus, there are many with lung problems, dry eyes and a chronic cough. Helping them understand some of the root causes for their physical health problems and find their own sustainable solutions is something I do as a naturopathic physician. Also, there are problems with finding clean water for drinking and cooking so gastrointestinal problems abound. Many children and adults have been victims of abuse and violence and Guatemala has a recent 30- year history of a civil war that they are still recovering from physically, mentally and emotionally.
Most of all, relationship is what affects lives, my own and my patients. One of my absolute favorite parts of being a doctor, is the time I get to spend with my wonderful patients and friends. I am excited to leave next week and start meeting new friends and see how God will continue to work in Guatemala. I trust that God will weave me in to the tapestry there as the hard-working Guatemalan woman wove my beautiful quilt 8 years ago.
How can you help?
If you are interested in learning more about this upcoming work in Guatemala, please visit the "Medical Service" tab of my website. There you will also find a list of items that can be donated and how to contribute financially to my work if you would like to. A letter that I sent out with ways you can be praying is also on that page if you scroll to the bottom of the page. Thank you for your prayers and support! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.