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Stories

Introducing Partner for Surgery’s New Resource Development Director

By Stories

My name is Mariajose Ortiz, but my friends call me MJ. I am Partner for Surgery’s (PFS) new Resource Development Director. While I write this, I am traveling back from my first rural medical mission in Quiché, Guatemala. Professionally, I have worked on different types of projects in medical care. Yet, during my first week on the ground with the PFS team, what I see is different in a very critical way.

Most projects operate out of a central location, where patients go seeking assistance. In contrast, PFS goes to the most forgotten patients, to the hardest and farthest places where few are willing to go to provide the dignity of quality healthcare. For PFS, knowing these people exist is the guiding star that drives every activity for its programs.

The commitment is the same from when we first meet our patients until we walk them home after recovery. Administrative staff, health promotors, board of directors, volunteers, and our faithful donors work in extraordinary harmony to serve each patient as an old friend.

I went to school at a small university in the United States and worked and lived there for twelve years. But my dream was always to serve in Guatemala, my home. I am honored and committed to Partner for Surgery’s mission because I see a lasting impact on my people. I have looked patients in the eyes and know with all my heart that what we offer them is real hope.

So, to end this note, I want to say how happy I am to be here. My hope and focus are to ensure that your support positively impacts our patients, and I believe this is the best place to start!

All the best,

MJ

Resource Development Director

Kindness for Karla: A Partner for Surgery Mobile Medical Mission Story

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Karla's CPC Evaluation PhotoKarla is a Honduran woman in her mid-40s, living in Tactic, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. She attended a Partner for Surgery Mobile Medical Mission in June 2019 for a mass on her face and neck and was diagnosed with a Giant Right Parotid Mass. It’s been a long road for Karla and her journey continues even to this day, but Partner for Surgery Guatemala (Compañero para Cirugía, or CPC) has been with her the whole way. Read on to learn more about Karla’s patient story.
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Partner for Surgery Health Promoter Rewarded for Kindness Amid Street Protest Traffic Block

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Guatemalan Street Protest

August 2021 Guatemalan street protest

Partner for Surgery Health Promoter Marta de la Cruz was rewarded for her kindness during a recent street protest that stopped traffic, threatening to prevent her team from getting their patients to medical care. 

Street protests are a common occurrence in Guatemala and represent the only way that some citizens have of making their voices heard. Most of these protests are peaceful, but not always.

One example of a protest that was not peaceful happened in October 2021. The anti-vaccine contingent came to rural Guatemala and more than 500 angry residents blocked traffic from proceeding. Among the vehicles stuck in the protest block was a van carrying health workers and nurses on their way to deliver Covid vaccine doses in Alta Verapaz.

The protesters destroyed the vaccines and held the health workers hostage for seven hours until police and local officials negotiated their release. Fortunately, that is a more extreme example than what our Health Promoters encountered last August. Read More

Partner for Surgery Begins a Return to Normalcy in Guatemala

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Partner for Surgery health promoters register patients

Partner for Surgery Health Promoters register rural medical mission patients

Now that vaccines are more readily available and the world begins to emerge from the Covid pandemic, Partner for Surgery is seeing a return to normalcy, as well. In January and February 2022, we were able to hold two consecutive rural medical missions to identify patients for upcoming surgical missions as surgical teams are able to return to Guatemala this year. 

Prior to January 2022, Partner for Surgery’s last rural medical mission was on February 24, 2020, just before everything stopped due to the Covid pandemic. We were finally able to welcome volunteers from the U.S. and Canada from January 22-29, 2022, for our first rural mission in 23 months.

Almost immediately after it ended, we held our second rural mission (February 2-9). These rural triage missions reflect our confidence that the 11 confirmed surgical teams (as well as those planning to confirm) will be in need of full weeks of patients. The Covid concern is still there, but lessened, and we, our patients and volunteers, the hospitals, and the Guatemalan Health Ministry have all learned to adapt. We are hopeful about the future! Read More

Infant Nutrition for Cesar: A Partner for Surgery Patient Story

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Cesar was born on June 27, 2021, with a unilateral cleft lip and cleft palate. Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Partner for Surgery is there to help this rural Guatemalan family and ensure that their son was able to get the nutrition he needs as he awaits his cleft repair surgery.

When an infant is born with a cleft lip or palate, it’s important to repair the cleft as soon as possible so that the child can get proper nutrition. This is often difficult in places like rural Guatemala. Today we’re sharing Cesar’s story. Cesar’s parents, Margarita and Genaro, are a young couple, and despite their difficult financial situation, they were thrilled to learn that they were expecting their first child. Margarita gave birth to Cesar in June 2021 in Aldea Paapa, San Juan Chamelco, Alta Verapez.

The family’s joy soon turned to concern for their child.

“We were told our boy was born with a condition that required special care and if he was not able to breastfeed, he would need infant formula, which was a little expensive. I panicked,” Genaro said. “My wife and I were already struggling with food insecurity, so how was I going to buy powder milk for my son? For two months, I felt anxious, sad, and confused. I was having such a hard time trying to feed my family and to buy milk for Cesar. Margarita and I were having only one meal a day.” Read More