Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A World Away or Closer than I Imagine?

6:50 am ET, Arlington, VA. In just a few hours I’ll board a plane at Dulles International Airport and begin my journey to Antigua, Guatemala beginning a new and important phase of my orientation as Director of US Operations at Partner for Surgery, an organization I came to work with on November 1st, 2010. I am just back after my daily morning run along the Custis Trail. The temperature in Arlington this morning was in the mid 30’s. Even at 6 am, the hum of rush hour traffic on I-66 was already buzzing. I wonder how that will compare to rush hour in Guatemala City. Along the run, I tried to assess my expectations for this trip.

I’ll be meeting the staff and leadership of our independent Guatemalan partner organization, Compañero en Salud (CenS), as well as my colleagues at Partner for Surgery’s Guatemalan headquarters in Antigua. There will be lots of new names, faces, stories and languages – both Spanish and the many Mayan dialects spoken by our patients, staff and many translators. I’ll have a chance to see a team of volunteer surgeons and other health professionals from Montgomery County, MD at work in our surgical center in San Juan, Sacatepequez starting next Sunday. And as a husband and father of four daughters, I am particularly interested in hearing about the success and challenges of the training we are sponsoring this week of Guatemalan Ministry of Health nurses in the use of an innovative protocol to detect and treat cervical cancer among women in remote Mayan villages. I am told that during the training we’re expecting upwards of 1000 women, all of whom are coming in to be screened for cervical cancer.

What other images might I encounter as I step off the plane in Guatemala City later this afternoon and head west to Antigua? For the last 25 years, I have worked locally here in the DC metro area with children, adults and families who were homeless. How different will those experiences prove to be when compared to the medical and health education services Partner for Surgery delivers in Guatemala? I am about to find out. (Brian Carome is Director of US Operations at Partner for Surgery, a not-for-profit organization based in McLean, VA and operating in Guatemala. He will be writing here about his visit to Guatemala through January 12th.)

1 comment:

  1. Guatemala has such beautiful landscapes, a rich culture and so many kind and polite people. Enjoy your trip, Brian.

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