Friday, April 12, 2013

Two Too Many

In the last month, our tiny organization has lost two sweet souls in Guatemala. Two people who meant the world to their loved ones. Two people who left children behind, and who were the glue in the fabric of their families.
People pass away every second of every day. Thousands of people worldwide leave this life. But these two left too early, leaving a life-changing impact on ten children. 
Ana (below), mother to five, had diabetes. We knew this, and thanks to the endless efforts of our friends at Adopt-A-Village Guatemala, Finding Freedom made sure she had medical care. We will never know if she ran out of her medication, or if she chose to stop taking it. Most likely Ana didn't realize the importance of taking care of herself. Diabetes is a complex disease under the best of circumstances, and her situation was less than ideal. She was illiterate, and had very little understanding of the ravages of diabetes and the care that was required. Before her death, Ana sought the care of a native healer, and she had more faith in him than in the medication we had gotten for her.
Ana, right, just before her passing
I take comfort in this last photo taken of her that Frances at AAV sent. Ana (left) has a brightness in her face that I hadn't seen before. She is shown holding seed pods from the gardening project she was involved in. The seeds, along with her new house donated by our organization and the daily meals she was receiving gave her hope, which is reflected in this photo with her daughter.
The most recent passing was Melinda's father, who was getting ready to move into Ana's former house (Ana's children no longer wanted to stay in the community without their mother) with his daughter. We felt that his presence there would not only keep Melinda safe but also give her help with her four young children. Just before the move, we got this message from Frances at AAV:
"the latest news is that Melinda´s father missed the grave, but was released way too soon from the hospital, then traveled with Melinda and Pedrito over that horrible road, and they didn't have his medicine."
"So, on Sunday, I visited them, dad is very, very weak.  I took juice and oranges to make juice and fresh eggs with instructions for Melinda (all for him), at least the juice to hydrate him.  The next day, late, school director was to have arrived with meds and would look for a nurse to give him intravenous (except it is one of those long vacations here so I doubt he would find anyone)."
The day after this message from Frances, Melinda's father died. He was her only male support person.
Melinda, before the delivery of her baby
  I could write volumes about the abysmal lack of adequate medical care in the area of Guatemala that these two people lived in. Typing away words of concern about how Melinda is going to raise her children alone or where Ana's orphans will be housed would accomplish little toward resolving the bigger issues. The bottom line is that these are irreversible changes in the lives of ten children. 
Feeling hopeless is useless. Having the resources to help is the only gift we can offer. Changing the dynamics of the culture, or lack of infrastructure and medical care available in rural Guatemala is impossible. Offering resources, food and hope to the survivors feels like the only possible victory.