Monday, November 17, 2008

Project HOPE Volunteers Help and Bond with Children in Guyana

I finally made it out to one of the three Project HOPE sites in Guyana. It was great, maybe because I haven’t seen dry land in five days or maybe because it was really good to finally see the people we were here to help.

The day started at 0500 with a quick breakfast before mustering in the ship’s hanger bay at 05:45. By 0600, I was on a 45 minute helo (the military is wearing off on me) ride to Santa Rosa - a small, remote area in the northern part of the country. When we arrived on location, all the local children, were gathered to watch the helicopter land. Anne, a pediatrician, was only other HOPE volunteer at this site today.

Anne used to work in international health training and programs with the World Health Organization and USAID, so she has plenty of experience with treating patients in developing nations. I watched her interact with patients, mostly children, for the better part of the day. She treated over 60 patients in 6 hours. A lot of patients had skin infections, dietary problems, chronic pains and other things common in developing nations. Most of these things were treatable on the spot, but more serious maladies were taken back to the Kearsarge for surgery or, unfortunately, turned away because the necessary treatments were unavailable.

I’ve been hanging out with the medial staff, military and HOPE, on this trip on the ship and finally saw them in action. I am truly impressed with their dedication to treating patients. These are wonderful people that are truly out to better the world, one patient at a time. I’m proud to say that many of these people come from America.

At the end of the day, the people not spending the night gathered on the airstrip for our return trip to the Kearsarge. The local children again came out to watch the helicopters come in and pick us up. The boys, all under 12, began to play marbles. I started talking to these guys about the rules of the game. They were all really shy and soft spoken. I sometimes have a hard time understanding the Guyanese Creole they speak, partially because some of their colloquial phrases are foreign to me and partially because I they speak in a near whisper.

After talking to Vivian, a young boy that lived near the hospital we were visiting, I pulled out a deck of cards and asked him if he knew any card games. A short while later I was teaching 40 children how to play a card game.

Photos and Entry by John Bobosh

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