“I was sick and you visited me… When did we see you sick and come to you? ... And the King said ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25) Sus Manos takes this passage to those with the greatest degree of need.
We began this morning with our usual delicious breakfast prepared by the hands of our tremendously-appreciated team members, Albita and Virginia. On this particular morning the Sus Manos team had the pleasure of being accompanied by some of the behind-the-scenes Friends of Barnabas staff. After introductions given by Carlos, Charles, and Nury, we learned a little bit more about each other. It should be noted that the staff works just as hard as we do to ensure that our local villages get the care that they need! After breakfast, we boarded the team bus driven by our skillful staff member Raul. I say “skillful” because we owe our successful trips in part to Raul, who masterfully navigates the winding/narrow paths required to access each community every day!
We visited the village of Agua Blanquita today, which has never before been visited by a Friends of Barnabas team. Same as yesterday, the villagers aided in unloading our supplies from the team bus prior to setup of each clinic. For those readers who are new to our operations, I’ll take a moment to review the clinics themselves. The General Clinic, manned by our medical professionals, combines a collection of medical expertise with a variety of medicines (antibiotics, pain medicines, cough medicines, and more) to effectively treat a variety of patient cases. Then there are the Vitamins Clinic, the Anti-Parasitic (“De-worming”) clinic, and the Fluoride Clinic that distribute medicines or utilize special mixtures to treat any of the respective issues at hand. Next is the Vision Clinic, which with the help of specialized machinery, fits corrective lenses to patients. Finally, there is the Dental Clinic, where, in most cases, decaying teeth are extracted (after numbing, of course) to relieve pain and stop the spread of infection. The total patient volumes per clinic after these first two days are listed as follows: General clinic with 388, Vitamins with 352, De-worming with 274, Fluoride with 71, Vision (combined Pediatrics and Adults) with 240, and Dental with 38. In the event that patients come in with more serious cases that require further evaluation, referrals to local hospitals are given in FOB’s name (and we’ve referred 42 patients thus far).
Virginia, one of the members of the Sus Manos team, shared a story this evening about a boy with curly black hair she’d met at the village today. His name was José, and the two of them had the pleasure of meeting near the De-worming Clinic. After swallowing the solution given to him at the clinic, José turned and began to walk away, however after only a few steps he turned back around and ran to give Virginia a big hug. The two were to meet again later in the afternoon, only this time José was accompanied by his little sister. After another embrace Virginia gave José her cross necklace, an item provided to each team member at the beginning of the week to be given to a villager when a special connection was formed.
Carmen also shared a story in response to Peggy’s question “Where did you see the hands of God today?” She spoke of a villager with a condition that could not be immediately treated with the resources available at the general clinic. Rather than medicines, the villager received the touch of multiple team members’ hands in a display of intimacy. This villager was referred to a local hospital for follow-up and further testing, and these members of the Sus Manos team truly acted as “His hands” in that moment.
After dinner, Dr. Marvin Williams briefly reviewed the meaning of the words “health care” in communities such as the ones we’ve seen in the past two days. He put an emphasis on the word “care” in regards to the approach of treatment given in these communities. An important note about providing medical education and pushing for the establishment of self-sufficient organizations was also mentioned. It’s always important to remember the life that members of these villages live. They don’t have a return flight to the United States in less than seven days. There is no “settling back into daily routines once home” for these villagers. This is their home. This is their way of life. Holding back tears, Virginia stated, “They’re no different” when reflecting upon the spirit of these grateful villagers… and I think she’s absolutely right.