Search      Language 

Turn to Jesus (Article)

In a Land of Volcanoes, Charity Shines
Helping Hands Medical Missions took 50 medical missionaries to San Vicente Pacaya, Guatemala for five days of service to the poor.

Medical missions with a personal touch
"God teaches us and gives us big lessons, especially through the witness of the people."

June 30, 2008. San Vicente Pacaya, Guatemala. In a small community flanked by two active volcanoes, 50 Helping Hands medical missionaries spent five days serving the poorest of the poor with free medical and dental care. Over the course of their mission, they cared for 1,900 patients and performed 25 surgeries.

A You Tube video from the mission is available at this link.

The Missionary Team

The 50-member team, many of whom were returning missionaries from Louisiana and Syracuse, included two
A team of 50 missionaries used their talents to serve the poor in Guatemala.
A team of 50 missionaries used their talents to serve the poor in Guatemala.
pharmacists, two anesthesiologists, two surgeons, two surgical technicians, five dentists, four medical doctors, three nurse practitioners, two pre-med students, four volunteers, and a large group of nurses.

The team was also accompanied by Fr James Swanson, LC, as the Mission Chaplain, and was led by Dr Alma Levy, a neonatologist at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital in Covington, Louisiana. Dr Levy has served as the Mission Director for the Guatemala mission for the past seven years.

The missionaries worked alongside a Regnum Christi team from Guatemala led by Dr Mauricio Gonzalez and Mr Pedro Molina, who provided practical support and a warm welcome to the country.

As far as faith is concerned,
One of the active volcanoes flanking the town.
One of the active volcanoes flanking the town.
the missionary team was an unusual one: twelve of the missionaries were non-Catholics, many of whom return year after year because they find the experience so fulfilling. The medical personnel included several Baptists, few non-denominational Christians, a few Jews, and a Muslim. One of the ER doctors, a Baptist, was so touched by the mission that she wrote a humorous and touching book entitled A Baptist Girl Goes on a Catholic Mission. HHMM is in the process of preparing her book for publication.

Five Days of Service

The San Vicente Pacaya community, established in the shadow of the active Agua and Pacaya volcanoes, suffers from poverty and a widespread lack of access to medical care. In general, the people do not seek
Medical service imbued with a spirit of charity and joy.
Medical service imbued with a spirit of charity and joy.
out medical or dental help until their problem has become extremely serious, and then they must travel up to two hours to get to the nearest hospital. It costs a day’s wages to get a tooth extracted, and since moderate malnutrition is also a problem in the region, people are more likely to spend their wages on food than on dental surgery. All of these factors made the medical missions a much-needed contribution to the community’s welfare.

During the mission, the team split into two groups: the medical group went to set up a clinic next to the St Vicente Pacaya Church. The surgical group went to the Regional Hospital of
A dental operation like this would normally cost a day’s wages.
A dental operation like this would normally cost a day’s wages.
Escuintla to perform a total of 25 surgeries. In total, about 1,900 patients benefited from the work of both teams.

HHMM (Helping Hands Medical Missions) was invited to San Vicente Pacaya by the bishop of the Escuintla diocese, Bishop Víctor Hugo Palma Paúl, and by Fr Slawomir Ziobro, the Polish pastor of San Vicente Mártir Catholic Church in the town of San Vicente Pacaya. After the mission, Fr Ziobro wrote the following letter to the missionaries:

“With great gratitude, we send you this simple note to express our enormous thanksgiving in the Lord for the work of the Medical Day in our parish. Hoping that you have had a pleasant stay, I bid you farewell.”

Fr Slawomir Ziobro



Related links

Altius Foundation
Catholic World Mission
Helping Hands Medical Missions
St Rafael Guizar y Valencia Missionary Center

Follow us on:   
Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

¿Deseas agregarIn a Land of Volcanoes, Charity Shines a tus favoritos?
  -    No