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Real Life hits hard in Guatemala

These posts seem out of order in the chronological sense so you almost have to go down 4 or 5 posts to where you read the last time, and then read “backwards”. The earlier posting (the one below) was written just as I heard this news about a patient.

We heard this sad news a few minutes after we arrived at the house at 10.20 pm, tonight, Saturday.  At clinic on Thursday, a mother brought a baby blue from pneumonia so bad Lety our clinic manager, rushed the parents and the baby to the hospital. Yesterday the parents called to say that the doctor said the baby would not make it and would die in about a day. The parents were worried about not having enough money to take the baby out of the hospital when it died and asked if we could come to pick them and the baby up and take them back to the village so the baby could die at home.

Here’s the reason for their concern: Although most of the hospital costs are free, when a patient dies in the hospital it can cost the equivalent of two or three month’s of wages to get the hospital to release the body. Terrible, and it’s a real racket. There is no embalming, so burials must be in 24 hours. If you don’t pay to retrieve the body, the hospital sends the body to a “common grave”. The prospect of this is horrifying to people, so they do what they have to in order to raise the funds. Or, they take the patient out of the hospital before death. This is also one of the reasons it’s difficult for us to get people to even go to the hospital in the first place.

I have personally seen bodies taken from cemetery burial “mausoleums” in Guatemala City and being tossed into deep wells; I stood and looked down the well. Same treatment given to unclaimed bodies from the hospitals. The grave guys working there keep things from the dead, including shoes, clothes, trinkets and other things that were buried with the body. Ghastly to me, but they are just doing their job, I guess. I didn’t take this (rough) video, but I was at this place, and this is the place I saw the deep wells where they toss the bodies for their final resting place. CLICK > (15 second clip) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnaXiojjhFI

So, in all of the lightheartedness we like to maintain, it’s not hard to get slapped in the face by the rough reality of the life in the villages. Which is why we built and maintain the clinic.

Even if buried in a cementary slot, if the yearly payments don’t come in, the body could be taken out and put in the dump. Click here-> http://research.unc.edu/endeavors/win2008/guatemala.php

Hands Of Hope Ministries

Hands of Hope is a medical mission to the rural indigenous poor of Guatemala.

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