Cheryl Davies spent a month volunteering her healthcare services in Guatemala – an experiences she describes as a “life changer”. The people of Guatemala have touched her heart deeply, and her experience in Quiché has encouraged her to continue her outreach efforts wherever and whenever she can. Thanks Cheryl for all you have done to support our healthworks! Read all about Cheryl’s volunteer work with Global Healthworks Foundation below, and on her blog at yintuitionhealing.com/volunteer.
My Volunteer Experience in Quiché, Guatemala
Written by: Cheryl Davies (May-2016)
As we arrived at our first clinic location, I noticed about forty inquisitive faces on the patients who were already waiting for us. After riding through hilly rural roads, we pulled up our dusty van and began to unload all of our mobile clinic supplies. That day, we set up in a school classroom. There were many curious looks from the group of tanned Guatemalans who on average are all at least a foot shorter than me. I caught myself staring back at them, dressed in their brightly colored and best traditional garments. I began to stumble out the few Spanish words I knew, although Spanish being their second language also it wasn’t easy for anyone. For many, this was their first time ever receiving medical care. As we treated 85 patients that day in the dry heat of a village near Quiché, I knew I was beginning something that would change my life.
For the past month I have volunteered my help as an Acupuncturist for the Global Healthworks Foundation in Quiché, Guatemala. GHF is a non-profit organization founded by Dan Wunderlich and locally run by my dear friend Greg Radicone as the on-site year round Acupuncturist. He and two local assistants operate the “mobile clinic”. Three days out of the every week, the clinic is set up in a different location around Quiché offering free healthcare to any who show up. With up to ten treatment bed stations available, there can be as many as 90-100 patients treated in one day. Twice a year, they host a week-long “jornada” (free clinic) with a team of Acupuncturists, massage therapists, reiki healers, translators and other helpers. During this past jornada in April 2016, over 1,250 patients were given treatments, yoga class and herbal medicine. In the month I visited, I treated about 350 patients.
The operation runs smoothly with the help of Greg’s two assistants, JuanJo and Angel. Each day they pick up all the clinic supplies (i.e. massage tables, sheets, table paper, acupuncture supplies). They set up the clinic and register each patient. Most often the registration and intake must be translated from the indigenous language of K’iche’ to Spanish. They also assist during the treatment and after, instructing the patients with any post-care information.
The patients are a wide variety of all ages and no one is ever turned away. Sometimes traveling long distances by foot to reach the clinic location and join many who are all waiting patiently for their treatment. Gratitude is abundant among those who receive care and the friendly nature of the Guatemalan people makes the days pass pleasantly. The beautiful mountainous landscape makes driving on the unpaved roads an adventure yet a gorgeous scene you can’t forget. The culture of the people in Quiché is vibrant with color. They wear traditional and conservative clothes in a variety of dazzling colors. They often work hard labor and raise many children. This means that many who come for treatment suffer with all kinds of body pains. They are kind, conservative and deserve respect. Living in a subtropical environment, they live off the land easily with animal agriculture, yet most are somewhat malnourished and dehydrated. They are accustomed to very little technology and extremely basic living conditions in many cases.
It’s important for me to experience how people live differently and understand how people live in the world in different ways. I believe through that experience I can grow as a person and as a healer. To spend time listening, observing and learning what makes different people sick, happy, sad or strong means that I can learn how to help people feel better. After helping so many different people, you lose sight of any differences and realize that we are all the same. Each human body is slightly unique to each person but we all share the same human-ness. It’s only in our minds that we feel separate from others around the globe.
For me, volunteering my help gives me enough satisfaction and fulfillment. I don’t think that medicine or healthcare should always come at a cost. There are far too many people who need help in some way but can’t afford to pay for it. It is my desire to offer help where and when I can. What makes me feel good is knowing that I can make someone else feel good. I plan to continue volunteer healing work through Acupuncture, massage, diet education, lifestyle guidance and compassion. I would happily accept invitations from any organizations or groups that desire help.
Everyone deserves to feel good!