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Giving their time, gaining a new worldview

A group of 25 health care professionals are preparing for a work vacation to Guatemala this November through Community Nursing Services (CNS) and CarePartners to deliver medical clinics to the Quetzaltenango area of the country. A group of three local nurses and one support staff from the area will be joining 12 nurses, one doctor, a dentist, a pharmacist, a physiotherapist and administration staff on the trip.

Sandra Abell a support worker from CarePartners in St. Jacobs, Crystal Antle a nurse working in Kitchener who lives in Elmira, and Nancy Goodfellow and Anita Korte, nurses who work in Waterloo, are all eager to take the trip to Central America.

“This is a chance of a lifetime; it is something that I always wanted to do. I am very excited and I’ve started to count down the weeks until we go,” said Antle.

AID TO GO Sandra Abell (left), Crystal Antle and Nancy Goodfellow will be traveling to Guatemala in November as part of an international medical clinic.

The entire team is volunteering their time and efforts for the two-week trip that sees them visit a different village or town every day. The international medical clinic leaves Nov. 10 and will return Nov. 25.

The nurses pay for their own way and have to cover $2,000 in costs, which can be paid out of their own pocket or can be acquired through fundraisers.

“We have some people that have held fundraisers and collected donations we also have for staff a payroll deduction plan that can help take the bite out,” said Abell. “But it is a tough time economically for everyone and there seems to be more charities looking for money nowadays than ever before so it can be a bit hard to raise the funds.”

The major problems the nurses see in the Third World countries are children with dehydration and rotting teeth because once they stop nursing, they instantly start drinking pop because it’s readily available to them.

“Even with all their problems I have found that the children in these countries are a lot happier. They have nothing, but they are happy and they are so proud,” said Goodfellow.

Last year Goodfellow went to Nicaragua with the medical clinic and found everyone who attended were very appreciative of the visiting Canadians.

“I feel that we could learn a lot from their simple lifestyle,” said Goodfellow. “We have too much. People in Third World countries have a different focus than us, they think about where their next meal is coming from, can they wash their clothes and how can they get some water, whereas we are concerned with what is on TV or the next sale at the mall.”

The group is supported by the International Rotary Clubs, which help set up the villages the nurses visit and help with accommodations.

The group is travelling with 50 hockey bags that cannot weigh more than 50 pounds and must include all the medical supplies and the personal supplies that everyone takes with them. Space is very limited for personal items as the main focus is to bring medicine and supplies.

CarePartners and the CNS are accepting both financial donations and supplies. Currently the group is looking for toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, reading glasses, sunglasses, baseball caps, crutches, wheelchairs, soccer balls and stickers that they can give to the kids as they wait.

“When Linda Knight, (the CEO of CarePartners) said nurses are the last generalists she was right because when we get down there we can do everything and anything for these people to help them out medically,” said Goodfellow.

Everyone involved is eager to go on the trip and have begun to correspond with one another about their ideas and thoughts of how the trip will take shape.

“Trips like these are becoming more and more what people want to do, they don’t want to go and sit on a beach or do the bus tour of Paris,” said Abell. “People like the idea of being able to give back to the world community and selfishly it makes you feel good for what you have done.”

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