For the past 15 years, members of the WCUMC congregation have been making annual trips to Guatemala. The team draws upon volunteers from across the nation to join us in mission. The United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Program is a non-profit, non-governmental and humanitarian organization. Our particular medical mission team is concerned with the welfare of the Guatemalans who live in rural villages with no access to medical care.
On average, our team of twenty provides medical care to more than 400 people over the course of four days. The medical care includes treatment for water and food-borne illnesses, respiratory infections, skin infections, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, malnutrition, etc.
Because our host organization, Fundacion Herencia Viva, is in constant conversation with us, and because we return to the same villages year upon year, we can fine tune our mission to the needs of the communities we serve. We can give recurring care to patients with chronic needs, and come better prepared each year to serve the ongoing needs of the communities.
In 2016 we were unable to find enough doctors to support the mission. Instead, we stayed home and raised funds for water purification filters for one of the communities we serve. Several other congregations joined us, and we were able to supply water filters for most of the families of Los Cerritos. The outcome was outstanding. In 2017, Los Cerritos had only 8 cases of Giardia, Amebiasis or other incidents of chronic diarrhea reported. In contrast, the total for one of our other communities, Covadonga, was sadly 52. Clean water is critical to a healthy community.
Although we always need volunteers with medical skills, there are many jobs on mission for those with other skills:
- Interacting with the community
- Teaching basic life and health skills
- Raising money for special projects
- Helping in Pharmacy
- Fitting people for glasses
- Learning new skills in triage
- Helping community members practice stretches prescribed by our doctors
- The list is endless. You just need to be ready and willing to do anything, including holding cute babies as needed