This trip was primarily a dental trip. We had a dental team with us, they set up at a clinic and pulled teeth. Meanwhile there were lots of children outside the clinic waiting while their parents had teeth pulled.
Those of us who don't pull teeth did different activities with the kids. We brought out paper and markers and discovered a few very talented artists.
This little girl, Ashley, drew pictures of a few of us.
Bubbles were another favorite activity.
This little boy, Sebastian, was so much fun! I played with him for a couple hours, with the bubbles, balloons, and on the jungle gym. At one point he asked me where I lived, so I told him America. He then informed me Gringos lived in America. So, I told him I was a Gringo . He still seemed to like me though, and had to give me multiple hugs before he left.
His mom was also awesome. I was having a hard time explaining an activity to the kids, as I speak very, very, little spanish. She didn't speak any english, but was able to figure out what I was trying to tell the kids (through a combination of broken spanish and hand gestures), and explained the activity to them for me. I was so thankful for the help!
In addition to playing with the kids who came for the dental clinic, we also got to help with some of ASELSI's regular programs.
They have a school for special needs kids, as the public schools won't take any kids with disabilities. We got to do a Bible lesson and craft with these kids two of the mornings that we were there.
One of my favorite programs at ASELSI is the milk program. The milk program was started to combat the astronomically high infant mortality and malnutrition rates in rural Guatemala. Once a month mothers bring their babies to ASELSI where the babies are weighed and the mother is given enough powdered milk to feed the baby for another month. The day of the milk program, I got to do a craft with these mothers.
We made stuffed owl toys for the babies. It was so much fun! I explained how to make the owls, and then I just got to sit down and sew with them.
Definitely one of the highlights of my week!
The babies who were in the milk program were pretty adorable too.
The last day we were at ASELSI we got to do hospital visits. We visited a public hospital, where the medical care is free, but the standard of care is very low. We brought bags of toiletries to give the patients (as the hospital provides none), and prayed with them. The group I was with got to visit the moms with new babies.
These babies were so tiny and sweet! The average birth weight is between 5 and 6 pounds, so a bit smaller than the average American newborn. My favorite part of the hospital visit? I got to hold one of the newborns!
There was also a heart breaking aspect of the visit. There were eight new mothers per room. In one room we visited 7 of the moms had their babies with them. The eighth mother? Her baby had been born with major deformities, and he didn't make it. This poor woman, imagine, just having lost your baby, yet having to share a room with all these new babies and moms. My heart was broken for her.
I am so thankful that I got to go on this trip. It was an awesome experience! Hopefully within the next year or so I will get to return to Guatemala. I plan to work with ASELSI to start a goat program, which will almost be an extension of the milk program. I am excited! Now I must get on with doing more research and planning so that this dream can become a reality. I'll keep you updated!