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《KIA Dental Mission to Guatemala _1》__ Vincent Lee (65)

Feb 13, 2017
 
After breakfast, we were bused (two 16-seater Toyota vans) to our supporting host's medical clinic, a large compound with 4 or 5 two-storey buildings in a rural area. There's were line ups of patients already waiting to be processed and triaged: for extractions, fillings and hygiene cleaning. Dr Smith and a young obstetrics resident from New York (volunteering for 2 weeks) were already seeing their patients at around 8:30 am. We quickly set up in our assigned rooms, an amazing team work for a team of 20 who were total strangers to each other (except for the few who came from the same offices) before yesterday.
My roommate from Cranbrooks and I were in charge of training the two young 3rd year students for surgery, and we had a very busy day. My student took out 30 teeth, some badly bombed out and difficult, without the benefit of any x-rays, in his first time ever working on live patients - under my very watchful eyes every step of the way. He says he wanted to be an oral surgeon.
What made it more difficult was that one of the boxes containing a lot of our surgical instruments were held up at the American customs, simply did not get on the plane from Houston to Guatemala.
 
So today, we had to operate without a bunch of elevators, dental mirrors and other instruments. We finished at around 5; had a nice break and supper at 7. Now sitting around chatting, playing cards.
We will go back to the same clinic tomorrow, before heading out a remote village each day after that.
 
Feb 15, 2017

We went back to same clinic yesterday, had another very busy day much like the day before. Very hot with bright tropical sun.
We left early for an almost 2-hour drive up and down in the mountains with lush forests and corn fields to arrive at a small village in the middle of nowhere, literally. Everyone chipped in for the fast setup. We were ready to see patients within a short time of arrival. There was already a long and crowded line up of villagers waiting to be seen.
In these remote mountainous areas, we see about half and half adults and kids, often multiple members from the same family, having walked a very long distance to get to the school where we set up. We had a large classroom for our surgical room. We set up five "beds" and got them going full blast in a hurry, keeping 4 dentists and 2 students busy. This team, we are lucky, we have 6 dentists, one was my former student from 2013/14, two current students - both boys this time. My former student brought her youngest geologists sister and her mother-in-law, also a non-dental person to see what it's all about - they do sterilization and instrument care, and enjoy the work tremendously.
After the long work day, we were invited to have a nice swim in a private home - a minister's home. He appreciated our visit very much and let us use his private pool to cool off. Then we headed back to our hotel for supper.
 
Feb 16, 2017
 
Just returned from another long day at a remote village school about 2-hour drive from our lodging, waiting for supper.
Early this morning, I got the greatest scare and the utmost surprise of my life! There was a very heavy rain fall last night at around 3 am. I got woken up, because the corrugated steal roof made loud noises with the heavy downfall. After using the washroom, l was slowly drifting back to sleep. At exactly 5:30am, my roommate and I got woken up by a very loud bang-bang-bang ...... noise that sounded like machine gun shots. In deep sleep, Dave, my roommate, gave out a very loud yell. We both got up. Then we heard very loud singing and guitar music just outside of our cabin door.
Oh my goodness, when I opened the door, we were greeted by a musical team of four guitar players and 3 singers with portable loud speakers. The earlier bangs were loud fire crackers. Then as I was still rubbing my eyes, an English speaking staffer told me the fire crackers and the musical band were there sent by Chisec's mayor whom I met when we first got here, to serenade my 70th birthday - 2 days in advance! At 5:30am? The mayor likes high drama!
The girls must have told our KIA team leader about it, and he must then told the mayor.......etc. (Feb. 18 is a Saturday, may be that's why it's done early.) The entire team was waken up by the fire cracker noises, and the long singing of at least 8 or more songs, all in Spanish.  Then at breakfast (7am), the girls gave me a big fat "happy birthday" tie. That was how my long day started.
The rest is just a happy busy work day. I might get to see the Mayor before we leave, to personally thank him.
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