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《KIA Dental Mission to Guatemala _2》__ Vincent Lee (65)

Februrary 17: First Full Day of Work
 
Hello, from an "alternate Down-under", hot and humid, resting in Flores, a town surrounded by a lake in the tropical forest in north central Guatemala.  Today's hot sun probably gave an outside temperature of around 34 degree C. Tomorrow's forecast will be at ~37C.  Thought I'd include the WYK group for the few and Ho Sir who still have interests in following my mission adventures.
 
Have been here as member of a team of 21 from across Canada including 7 dentists, 4 hygienists, dental assistants and a few lay persons.  Just like in Peru, we are short of a mechanic or engineer.  I have two 3rd year dental students with me, both boys this time, and a former student (2014) who brought along her lay mother-in-law and her baby sister who just graduated from UBC last year in Geology. (She taught me a thing or two about the rain forest, rivers, lakes......). We also have an investigation executive and a wild life biologist who is currently doing field work looking at insects and plants of the old forests for her graduate work in Southern California.  It is a very interesting mix, both in the diversity of backgrounds and in the age ranges.  Another professor from the U of Albert Dental School, who is also the Vice President of Kindness In Action, is our Team Leader.  He is probably a couple of years younger than I - so I'm the oldest, l think! 
 
In fact, I had been celebrated twice already for my 70th, which is not till tomorrow. For the greatest scare and surprise in my life, see previous accounts.  A birthday I will NEVER forget!
 
We operated out of a rural community 4 hours from Flores way into the mountains called Chisec, literally in the middle of nowhere travelling on mostly paved but narrow roads up and down the forests and corn fields on steep slopes.  They also grow a lot of fruits here, of course, with all that sun and rain.
Our ground support (host) group is a medical charity group run by a young American MD (Dr Brian Smith) who came to these hills some years ago as a member of the American Peace Corps.  He built his clinic in the hills, and also helps to run a simple and ill equipped hospital.  He has a team of medical workers, all Peace Corp members working with us side by side for the two weeks with our KIA teams.  Most of them, including a young obstetrics resident from New York, can speak Spanish; She is one of my interpreters in between seeing her own patients.
 
The teamwork is just unbelievable - amongst a group of Canadian dental people and a group of US medics - who had never met before, coming together to service the mostly native people of Mayan ethnic origin.  Their dental care is non-existent, medical care is far from the basic "adequate".  I am deeply moved by the generosity (all volunteers pay our own way, meals and transportations to work here) of money and time.  My students give up their "Reading Week" vacation to be here.  I am honoured to be their instructor for their first ever experience in dental surgery, for which they will not get their hands-on exposure till their 4th year in the School.  I see them this year in clinics for 3rd year Paediatric Dentistry.
 
Tomorrow we will do a bit of touristy thing, going to visit a supposedly world famous ruin near Tikal, about an hour from here.  Heat will be bearable, I hope. Just hope it won't rain - you know what tropical rain is like!  (Hong Kong is only subtropical, and I remember the sudden downpours!)
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