Here in Guatemala, people sometimes need to be very resourceful. Yesterday, Becky happened upon a house that had been half-built using a very interesting insulation material: old pop bottles stuffed full of aluminum foil chip/snack bags. Once the bottles are stuffed and packed tight, they are packed end to end between wire fencing. This is then plastered over and finally painted with a moisture/weather-proof white-washing. Professionals often use this method as it is inexpensive, but it does take a very long time to collect all of this material. Therefore, this “homemade” version of a recycling house did not get completed-they couldn’t collect all of the necessary materials for insulating the other walls before the other wall that had been plastered got mouldy.

interesting construction materials on this house

On the construction side, the team actually had a few extra members today thanks to the generosity of the medical team!  The team also got to the site today WITHOUT going against traffic on several one-way streets. (Thanks Joey!)

this is how we roll

The team arrived on site, delighted to be greeted by dry trenches! This was great news as it meant we could use the extra time to proceed with pouring cement into all the footings of the school. As the morning went on,  the dump truck delivering our sand finally showed up, meaning we could continue on with mixing cement. But unfortunately, due to poor weather conditions over the past week, the dump truck carrying our sand was not able to make it on the muddy pathway. This is when Hugo (a Guatemalan worker and also now our good friend) directed the dump truck to a “shortcut”, which we soon came to realize meant the truck load of sand was dumped a good 600m away from the site. Immediately our team made this a priority and began shovelling the sand into the back of the pick up truck and then unloading it back at the site. This task was done concurrently with more rebar being tied for the soon-to-be walls of the school.

sand being transported to the school site

It was a very sunny day with little to no cloud cover, and on top of that, half the team have seemed to come down with flu like symptoms which has been dragging everyone a bit down. Nonetheless, the team shared many laughs and giggles, like when Joey got the truck stuck in the mud; Peter ALMOST ran over a chicken; and the team had to take turns chasing cows out of our site before they do their “business”.

Tomorrow, we expect more cement mix to arrive at the site, at which point we can begin laying bricks for the other sides for the remaining walls and see everything coming together nicely! We just cannot wait!

–Ken (my guest construction blogger, so that you hear more about construction than “stuff got built real good today”).

Meanwhile, the medical team at our great site in Comapa, an hour or so down some roads (some of which are only half-roads, and so if you are going to sit at the back of the bus you should definitely look out for flying hockey bags full of medical supplies), we saw 206 patients. Again, with Dr. Syd at the helm, we are able to make really great time, even taking time to eat together the amazing lunch provided to us by the municipality. However, just as we were wrapping up with our very last patient of the day, a very sick, old man showed up to our door, and needed to be carried in to be seen. According to his family, he has been sick for over a month, and unable to eat. We laid him down on a school bench, Kaeli deftly slipped in an IV, and we bolused him with fluid for about 45 minutes. Becky and Veneta made arrangements to transport him to the hospital, but his daughter preferred to take him home for his last days. This is quite common here, and we only hope we were able to make him more comfortable.

old man came in last minute at clinic

To end this post on a “high”, we had a nice surprise today at clinic: a local Lion’s Club group showed up at our clinic to help out with vision testing. An optometrist and his team were able to test for distance vision and provide glasses for those who needed them! This was really great as we only have the ability to test for and provide reading glasses, but many of our patients require glasses for distance as well.

optometrist lions club to the rescue

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STIMMA (Short Term International Medical Missions Abroad) is a registered Canadian charity with no political or religious affiliations, connecting medical, pharmaceuticals & support personnel with communities in need.

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