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I have had the privilege to spend the past week with seven women of Providence (Deb Rosler, Joyce Dombrouski, Marie Mayen Cho, Sandy Gregg, Miriam Hernandez, Dianna Reely and Kathy Criswell) who administer hospitals, design innovative programs, inspire staff, lead change to improve programs, direct departments and have dedicated their lives to the health of people they may never meet. I found myself humbled, inspired and amazed by the care that they so deeply feel for the patients and the community of Providence. These women spent the past week riding in buses along sharp curves and bends in the highlands of central Guatemala, climbing up the slippery and steep hills of the village of Granadilla (often in the pouring rain), struggled to learn the language of Q’eqchi’ and lifted heavy blocks of concrete to assemble stoves for people they had never met. The met the challenges of each day with smiles, flexibility and anticipation for the next challenge that would arise.
As a group, we quickly fell in love with the people of Granadilla and, in fact, Kathy and Marie were tempted to stay as the village daycare providers! We were honored to hear the stories of the families we served with and met with village leadership teams. We listened in awe as the “madres monitoras,” the community health care workers, shared with us their struggles in providing health education to other families throughout the community. The women who serve in this role are mothers with between two and nine children and are unpaid leaders in their community. They are trained in basic health care techniques and have the responsibility to provide outreach to 10 families in their community. The women spoke with conviction and confidence about their desire to improve the health of their community and their commitment to this work. We left the conversation inspired and curious about how to further support their incredible work.
The Medical Teams International women, Gladys and Brittin, worked alongside and led our group from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. They believe so deeply in the importance of this work and inspired the group with their deep commitment to the improved health of the people of Guatemala. They also continuously impressed us with their organization, ability to be one step ahead of us anticipating our needs and questions and their extensive knowledge of Guatemala and the communities we served.
The days were long but the week passed quickly and it is hard to believe that tomorrow morning we leave Guatemala. However, I leave with the inspiration of women who are guided by a deep faith in a better world and act upon that conviction with unbelievable sacrifice, fiery passion and loving compassion. Our world is indeed better because of their work and way they live their lives.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly NOW. Love mercy NOW. Walk humbly NOW. You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it.” –Talmud
"It is possible to become discouraged about the injustice we see everywhere. But God did not promise us that the world would be humane and just. He gives us the gift of life and allows us to choose the way we will use our limited time on earth. It is an awesome opportunity." – Caesar Chavez
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