Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Orientation Day

We're beginning Tuesday morning with an orientation. Fortunatley, after a long day of travel everyone got to sleep in. After breakfast the orientation began. In PZ's oh so profound way, she has all of us sitting around the table together writing about our hopes and fears regarding this new journey. We are also asked about what we would like to leave behind. I'm so excited for these new student nurses here. I can't wait until they come home and realize how they got way more than they bargained for. A trip to Belize is not just an opportunity for healing others, but a chance to heal some of your own stuff from within. It's a chance for change, a chance to come face to face with grace, and a time for a new beginning.We then got some cultural, geographical, and historical background on Belize. In some of our information, the students heard for the first time about things like Tapirs, Tarantulas, Snakes, and the dreaded Bot Fly that can crawl into your skin from a mosquito bite and then lay eggs, hatch, and crawl its way out of your skin. The look on their faces was priceless!
Last year we had about 6 hockey bags of supplies. We thought we had a lot! This year's team absolutely put us to shame! They have 22 huge military bags full of 1,100 pounds of everything from wound care, surgical supplies, cremes, medications, and more. There's even anti-malarial medication and strep tests. It's incredible and inspiring! These students have been working their butts off to accumulate stuff over the course of the semester. What we will be able to provide is evolving into a miracle in and of itself. In order to take these supplies into the hospitals and into practice in our clinics, we need to do a lot of organizing.

After organizing all of the supplies, everyone had their first cultural experience. We traveled over to the Mayan ruins known as Cahal Pech, otherwise known as "City of the Ticks". I had only seen these ruins under the light of a full moon the time we had our midnight jungle adventure. (Bad idea, by the way, after later on the night vision video seeing a poisinous snake poking its head out of a hole at us deep within a tunnel) Needless to say, experiencing the ruins in the daylight was much less scary. Our guide explained the history behind the ruins and paid special emphasis to the Mayan's respect for the environment. He also talked a bit about how the Mayan calendar ends in 2012 and what that means for the world, suggesting there might be major planet changes. We learned about some interesting plants... the "naked indian tree" that sheds its bark throughout the year, the "shoestring tree" that's used to reclaim a person's virginity, the "all-spice tree" for making tea and as a seasoning, the "cypress tree" for strength, and the sturdy "mahagony tree".

After a good dinner, we discussed the details of setting up clinic tomorrow. It's exciting to see the mix of excitement and nervous anticipation from the students. It will be wonderful to watch how their skills and confidence will inevitably evolve over the next 10 days.

For those who are familiar with the villages here, you’ll recognize some of these names on our schedule:

Wednesday: Ontario & TeaKettle
Thursday: Franks Eddy & St. Matthews
Friday: Market
Saturday: OFF
Sunday: OFF
Monday: Armenia and Springfield
Tuesday: Billy White
Wednesday: Las Flores

PZ and I will also attempt to make a few follow-up visits to patients in other villages including: Julia (the little girl with the massive sebaceous cyst), the young baby in Santa Marta (who we arranged surgery through Mayo Clinic), the blind woman in Santa Marta, Mr. Martinez from Franks Eddy (with the huge pressure sore on his back side), and finally Severina Cassola and her daughter (the mother with the diabetic foot ulcer who said she would rather die with both feet rather than live with only one.) Hopefully, they are doing well. Rose Anderson, the diabetic specialist out of Belmopan Hospital will be accompanying us into the villages tomorrow as well. That will be nice to have her along.

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