Whatever It Takes
3 inspiring stories of our work in the remote Guatemalan mountains
Like me, I’m sure many of you have heard family and friends voice their complaints of the cost (and sometimes quality) of our healthcare here in the United States. While I agree with much of these complaints—and find myself guilty at times of expressing my dissatisfaction—I make it a personal endeavor to remember the millions of individuals around the globe who face the reality of no healthcare options—not even a local “free” clinic to dole out aspirin and bandaids. Guatemala is no stranger to this reality. Disabled Guatemalans—who in many cases are physically immobile—are often overlooked and, in some cases, mistreated.
Two years ago Heaven’s Family purchased a mobile medical unit (MMU), for use by Daryl Fulp, the director of Hope for Home Ministries located in Antigua, Guatemala. Daryl requested the vehicle for use by his team—an EMT, a nurse, and an assistant—to care for many disabled individuals residing in the mountainous areas of Guatemala. The vast majority of these patients were receiving no medical care outside the regular care Daryl and his team administered.
The Heaven’s Family Disabilities Ministry is proud to report that we sponsor Daryl and his team with $400 a month to keep this vital ministry alive.
On my last trip to Guatemala, I accompanied Daryl on one of his daily “jaunts” as he calls them. It was an experience I will never forget. As we navigated narrow rutted paths clinging to steep mountain edges, maneuvering hairpin curves tighter than the turning radius of the vehicle (imagine needing to do a three-point turn on the side of a cliff in an ambulance) I quickly discovered the meaning of his phrase. But the people we visited, fighting very real challenges, were even more memorable.
Following are a few stories highlighting the disability cases the team regularly visits:
Maria Juana’s life forever changed 14 years ago. Armed men broke into her home and shot her in the lower leg, shattering her bones and leaving her foot dangling without support. The national hospital told her they could not repair the bones, so they sewed her up and sent her home with her foot dangling and in tremendous pain. So much pain that she was not able to travel. That is where our mobile medical unit comes into play. When she needed to be transported to receive a proper wheelchair, or to have her foot cast, we were able to carry her comfortably with her foot correctly secured. We also were able to provide her a support brace, eliminating most of her pain while enabling her to travel in a more conventional way.
Apolonia, 81, recently fell and broke her right hip. The national hospital would not operate to repair it, citing her advanced age and diabetes. When we found her, her blood sugar was over 550 and visual impairment advancing rapidly. Thanks to our Mobile Medical Unit, we were able to transport her comfortably for treatment to stabilize her diabetes. Soon we hope to arrange for her surgery and carry her to follow up appointments. That would not be possible without the MMU.
Dora,15, has severe scoliosis. Her condition has progressed to the point of respiratory distress, but we are working to get her corrective surgery. Until then, each day is a battle for survival requiring oxygen 24/7. We provided her with an oxygen generator and a tank for when the power is out. Dora often suffers from respiratory infections. “Recently we arrived at her home and found her very sick with a high fever and a horrible cough,” Daryl reported. “Her oxygen levels were low, and we were afraid we were losing her. With the mobile medical unit, we had everything we needed to control her fever, treat her infection, and get her breathing well again. We left two hours later with Dora much improved. That is the advantage of having the MMU. We have everything we need with us to treat illness and injury, which is crucial in the remote regions in which we minister.”
Thank you so much for your continued and faithful giving to the Disabilities Ministry. You are the reason behind the above smiles on Dora and Daryl’s faces. May God continue to bless you as we all continue to grow in our faith!
Together in Him,
Director, Disabilities Ministry