Our Surgery Team has had a busy “wall to wall” days of surgery after surgery in each of two rooms doing five surgeries a day in each room, so ten per day. As the third of four days closes, they only asked for a few more “Fanta.” The local coke with real sugar cane is great, but also the Fanta here with unique flavors like pineapple is so so good. Our logistics team drove again today to the local Coca Cola distributor and then took over some red and orange and yes, pineapple. Here a few of the team are on a short break from one of the surgery rooms. Andre’ comes up to help from Orange Walk Hospital (Northern Regional) and our friend Dr. Sajia who was chief of staff and now promoted to a regional health leader.
The Village Team headed to Little Belize. We had to cross the New River on a hand cranked bridge to reach this area. This is a guarantee to slow us down and make us look at life outside of the rush rush we are used to at home.
Little Belize is the most orthodox camp of the various camps of Mennonites in Belize.
They do not use technology, so you see them in buggies with traditional garb. The ladies will not look other men in the eyes (considered flirting) and the women speak no English and only a few of the men can speak English. We need to take translators to translate from Spanish to English, to match up with most of their male translators that only speak German and Spanish. Men learn Spanish for trade purposes. We were told we were going to a new place and to find Camp 30, but fortunately we drove past the old place (from last year) and found out it was the old place, Camp 28 at Abraham Schmitts. Actually, they chased us down in a truck. Four white vans are pretty conspicuous.
The Mennonites are large producers of food and this month they are busy in the bean harvesting. They also produce the Chickens and Pigs, corn, tomatoes and most every vegetable and grain in Belize. They help each other and are quite productive. Driving onto their camps is like driving onto a movie set. Every one dresses alike making home made clothes, but purchased at the same stores with little variety in order to not be flashy.
We set up the pharmacy in the back and had lunch there when it was brought to us. Each host village or in this case, camp, provides lunch for the doctors and nurses and translators. Thirty six in all today. The teens in our group brought things to interact with the children who are waiting at the clinic. We set up reception areas and nursing stations and doctor stations.
We had a big scare at 12 noon when a local Belizean girl was rushed into our clinic after being bitten with a snake, the deadly coral snake. She at 14, was helping her family pick beans for the Mennonites and a coral snake bit her. She was scared and her family was in hysterics. We gave them some medicine to soften the pain, and then called to verify that snake anti-venom was on hand at the Northern Regional Hospital. Our logistics guys and a translator rushed her to the hospital after convincing the mom that this would be for free at the hospital and better than the bush doctor they wanted to go to in a nearby village. We wanted to convince the girl that this was totally curable and she would be fine, so we gave her $100 towards her quincianos when she turned fifteen as proof of our faith. Turns out, she will be fifteen in just 14 days! Within an hour, she was in the emergency and they quickly administered the anti-venom. She and the family were all smiles and glad we were able to transport them across miles of bumpy roads and call ahead to our friends to verify they were ready. Friends is a common term now, after some fifteen years of coming. Friends who know we will be coming to their village. Friends who are calling on us to do more education for medicine in the country. Friends who are telling us the parts they need for their anesthesia machines to make them all work at 100 percent. And, so many friends who help us with translation and construction or any issue we have that side tracks our efforts if not for our friends.
Below is the information on the students we sponsor in Belize and how anyone can join that effort: