Final thoughts from District 6000 Governor Elect Chris Knapp

Our time in Huehuetenango was drawing to a close. Tomorrow, Friday, we begin our trip back to Iowa City via Antigua.  In preparation of our return and to complete this year’s Iowa MOST mission to Guatemala the medical team had their opportunity to participate in two outreach experiences.  Like Wednesday’s outreach trip by several of the non-surgical team members, the surgical team visited two community schools and participated in activities with the students.

Today for all of us was wrap-up day. Mission Control, the data collection and scheduling command center for the MOST mission, was already focusing on next year.  Filing this year’s forms, assessing documentation forms and other supplies on hand at the hospital was in progress.  Mission Control and the non-medical team members use this time to help set the stage for another successful kick-off for the coming year.

When the medical team arrived back at the hospital after their outreach activities there was a flurry of activity. Doctors and nursing staff joined together to evaluate what supplies were on hand at the hospital, what should be returned to storage for next year’s kick-off.  The team work is great to see and the camaraderie is not only apparent but an integral part of the teamwork that makes this mission so successful.

The muralists never rest. While I had my back turned they completed a beautiful mural in the pediatric ward and then without missing a beat completed a last minute request to paint a mural in Dr. Oscar Marroquin’s exam office.  What they liked best about this last project was the wall.  They laughed as they told me, it wasn’t stucco and it wasn’t cement block, it was a smooth surface.

One of the reasons why Iowa MOST is in Huehuetenango is related to another D-6000 program, FAMSCO (Fire Ambulance Medical Supply Company). FAMSCO has its own unique story, but the short one is that there was an Iowa family connection to the city that offered the opportunity for District 6000 Rotarians to donate retired fire equipment, especially fire engines, retired ambulances or vans that can be converted into an ambulance. All of the above has happened in Huehue.  The Volunteer Fire Department No. 122, one of the most respected fire departments in all of Guatemala, received a used fire truck several years ago, later a heavy duty commercial van and other equipment.  The volunteers did all of the modifications on the van to make it a superior emergency ambulance.  The fire truck is still in use and is an integral part of the community.  Every month they are using their vehicles, especially the ambulance almost 100 times.

The primary reason to visit the fire station was to deliver two new portable defibrillators. Dr. Canady and Team Leader Deb Dunkhase presented the defibrillators to the fire department.  There was a heartwarming exchange between the firefighters and Rotarians.  As experienced time again the people of Guatemala appreciate the sharing of our talents, skills and resources with them.  We all know that together we make a difference.

This is our last day together as a team. Already two of the medical team doctors departed this morning.  To celebrate a successful mission the tradition is to have a supper together at a restaurant.  The newbies on the mission are given the opportunity to share an experience or two that impacted them during their stay in Huehue.  The restaurant that we ate at didn’t afford the physical opportunity to all be in one room though we were adjoining.  So, we will do this tomorrow morning at breakfast before boarding our bus.

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