Bellin College Guatemala Mission Trip 2018

This year Bellin College returned to Punta de Palma Guatemala for the third year, continuing with the established relationships at the Eliza Martinez Children’s Hospital, the people who live in the Puerto Barrios Dump, and the villages of Baltimore, Rio Salado, and Punta de Palma. Thirteen BSN Students were selected for the TR 498 Travel Course: Guatemala, and hope to receive 2 clinical credits following the completion of this course in late January. The preparation for this course began in September with theory classes that focused on Mayan Culture, the Guatemalan Civil War and Resultant Genocide, Modern Guatemala Government and Practices and Common Presenting Symptoms, Disease Processes, and Treatments.  This theory content was critical for the students’ preparation to provide culturally sensitive and informed nursing care.

This year the team provided CPR training for the hospital staff along with a provider-led teaching opportunity on Respiratory Assessments of Infants and Children.  They had the opportunity to meet Nursing, Physician, and Hospital Directors to discuss healthcare in the Eliza Martinez Children’s Hospital, the only publicly run Children’s Hospital in all of Guatemala.  They discussed future teaching and learning opportunities for next year’s team along with potential partnership opportunities with Bellin College regarding supplies and training of staff members.

Students then assisted the 4 Medical Providers to set up 3 clinic sites.  One in the Puerto Barrios Dump where approximately 300 people make a living recycling what they find in the Dump.  There, 80 children live and face potential abandonment and human trafficking.  The second 2 clinics were return clinic sites to the villages of Rio Salado and Baltimore, where we continue to develop relationships with 400 villagers.

Students have reflected back that this Mission trip was formative and “life-changing”. Yet, the Team members struggle a bit with “reverse-culture shock” as the reality of social injustice across the world settles in with them. They worry about the children and families they cared for and had to leave behind. They also say it is so difficult to adequately describe to friends and loved-ones all that was experienced during this trip.

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