Sunday, November 27, 2011

Getting to Know You

This Sunday and last Sunday I traveled to San José Villanueva, the site of our February Medical Mission, to meet with the volunteers who will be inviting patients to our mission.  Sunday turns out to be the best meeting time, after the early morning mass.  Today there were about 30 people gathered in a big classroom, lots of questions about the mission and about who should be invited.  If only we could see everyone in the community!  But our limit, we've found out over the years, is about 325 people per day, many of them going to two or more clinics.

Today they did the hard work of deciding which communities would come to the clinic on each day.  This is always the point where it begins to seem real and possible to me, so I rejoiced to watch these community leaders at work.  Already we have enough volunteers signed up to work with us throughout the week, which is amazing at this early point.

We're going to be using one wing of the parish school, which includes the meeting room shown in the photo.  It's great space, with a covered area when patients can wait, separate rooms for each clinic, a good pharmacy space and even a break room.  For all the great space, our work will not be easy; this week a report from the World Food Program shows San José Villanueva as having one of the highest levels of malnutrition in the country among children under five years - an estimated 38% of the youngest children in this rural town are small for their age.  What we can do to help in a week of clinics is really limited; our vitamins will do some good, but don't change the poverty that leads to such hunger among children.  And yet, we will be there as witnesses, and witnessing has value.

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