My interest in I.H.I.S.'s Project Salud y Paz prompted me to sign up for a construction mission team. 2007. Five years and five more trips. 2012. Now a board member and still full of the spirit of Project Salud y Paz. Our mission to the Mayan communities of Guatemala provides medical, dental and educational services to the indigenous Maya of Guatemala. This mission changes lives: our volunteers' lives as much as the lives of the Mayan communities that we serve. - Aubrey Lunsford, New Smyrna Beach, Florida
As our Florida mission team was preparing to depart for Guatemala, we received an appeal from the staff of the Salud y Paz clinic in Camanchaj. A young Maya woman, 26, has never been able to walk due to congenital defects. Her family's minister was seeking help for the family: a special wheel chair for Bertola. In one short day, $500 was raised. The chair was ordered. The family would spend a long day in travel to and from the city where the chair would be custom-fitted for Bertola. At the end of one of our own long work days in Guatemala, we were surprised as the staff nurse drove onto the grounds with Bertola, her mother, brother, and the new chair. These pictures tell the story of what this chair meant to this family. B's mother and brother spoke in K'ichi to us for her. Their words were translated, but the smiles really told us. Our church's association with Salud y Paz and the Camanchaj clinic has been one of many years. Each trip we feel increasingly our bond to this community and this mission. On no day more so than on this very, very blessed day. We who can give, truly do receive much, much more than we give.
we have been on 3 trips to Salud Y Paz the trips have been very life changing for me I always come back a different person the people are very appreciative of the work that is done by Salud Y Paz and all of the people that give of their time and money to make their life better. I think of my guatemalan friends daily and how lucky they are to have such dedicated people that love to help. My bags are already packed for our next trip in Jan. 2011, when our bus pulls up the kids and staff all come running to greet us, we are ready to do whatever needs to be done. But Fri. always comes and we must head home. I always cry when I have to leave, but I know that god will see that I will return next year to do good deeds again. Thank you Salud Y Paz, Dr Plunk and all the staff for the miracles that you do everyday.
This past year I have traveled to Guatemala twice and have served in various locations as a volunteer construction worker on two separate 10-day mission trips. During the second trip I worked on several construction projects at the Salud y Paz clinic & preschool in Camanchaj. I was continually amazed and inspired at the sight of the clinic and preschool. It is completely awe-inspiring to think of all of the volunteer hours that go into making a place like that work year-around. The Salud y Paz clinic effectively serves many patients which really is a tribute to its staff. These individuals work tirelessly to bring healthcare to a place where even the most simple heath services are non-existent. Additionally, it is amazing to think of the scope of operations being undertaken by Salud y Paz. They continually receive volunteer groups from outside of Guatemala. Even though Salud y Paz works hard to find volunteer and financial help from afar, it was truly inspiring to see how many local Guatemalans work within Salud y Paz. Many of the doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and nurses that I met in Camanchaj were all Guatemalans serving in their own country. Salud y Paz is a comprehensive example of the desires of so many individuals to make Guatemala a better place through providing greater access to healthcare. Those who volunteer for this organization will have the time of their life.
One mans determination and example has inspired people from across the U.S.A. to leave the comfort and security of their home and travel to Guatemala. With the help of Salud y Paz we worked in villages, churches, and schools to bring dental care to the Mayan population. We were blessed by the Mayan's joyful disposition and grateful attitude.
After serving God and Guatemala during a 12 day rural medical mission trip in January of 2009, I was sure I'd be back some day in a bigger way. The short-term mission was such an eye opener to me that is was all I could think about when I returned home. It was as if Guatemala taught me about the love of God and just what He means when He speaks about the poor. After prayer and council, I decided to return to Guatemala to serve in the clinics of Salud y Paz and assist in coordinating rural medical and surgical mission teams. I moved to Guatemala to work with Salud y Paz full time in August of 2009 and will stay faithfully as long as I feel called to do so. My role and function as a registered nurse with Salud y Paz continues to develop and change over the months of service here. Doing a little bit of everything is challenging. One of our biggest obstacles is the fact that our clinics are so spread out. We would love to provide basic medical and dental care to a larger population. Our challenge is in finding a team of Guatemalan individuals to regularly staff all 5 clinics, with medications to follow. One of the greatest aspects of the organization is the fact that they partner with Guatemalans and empower them as individuals with education and technical training so that they are able to work in our clinics as full-time staff. It has been such a joy to see these individuals who are recieving scholarships grow personally and professionally and flourish in a job that they may have never had the opportunity to achieve.
For the past four years I have gone to Guatemala with a mission team from Houston. We provide free dental clinics for the Mayan people of Western Guatemala. This work is only possible because of the leadership and inspiration of Dr. Phil Plunk, who runs Salud y Paz (a branch of International Hands in Service) in Guatemala. Dr. Plunk and his dedicated staff operate several full time clinics in Guatemala as well as coordinating the efforts of many volunteer teams that come from all over the world to work in Guatemala. Our team of dentists has gone into places where there has never been any dental care and through our free clinics we are able to relieve the pain and suffering of many people who are in desperate need of dental care. We also work with the local schools to educate the children about good dental care and how to protect their teeth. I will be returning to Guatemala to do this work as long as I am able. My heartfelt gratitude goes to Dr. Plunk and the wonderful people at Salud y Paz for their help in organizing our mission trips and their dedication to the people of Guatemala.