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Fifth Mexican medical brigade

Our fifth medical brigade came together wonderfully, despite it being held on such short notice. Volunteer doctors from Texas said they were able to come for a medical camp in only a week’s time, so it was red alert while we made preparations for places to stay, meals, and secured sponsorships for gas, van maintenance and other needs. Eight Family International volunteers hosted our fifth medical brigade, this time held in two locations over two days and nights.

Our medical team was headed up by our faithful friend and eye specialist, Dr. Hans, from Afghanistan, who lives in McAllen, Texas. This was Dr. Hans' fifth medical brigade with us. A pediatrician from Texas, Dr. Hernandez, joined us for his first brigade, along with his son Eli and three other bilingual medical students from the Monterrey TEC Medical School. We so enjoy collaborating with such diligent and dedicated professionals. The first day we held a brigade in our own village with our local Lion’s Club. Although heavy rain storms were predicted all weekend, we had beautiful sunny weather both days.

At our local village brigade, the doctors assisted 60 people, many of them children. Dr. Hans is always teaching and instructing the medical students, as he offers not only eye checks, and free glasses and meds, but also assists the public with general medicine. The mothers were so grateful to have free counsel from Dr. Hernandez, the pediatrician. During a checkup, he discovered a two year-old toddler, born premature, who had not yet crawled or walked. Dr. Hernandez referred the mother, who was unaware of the severity of the problem, to a local specialist.

This medical camp was held only a few blocks from our home at an outdoor university camping and sports facility. We set up our large screen and projector which we use for seminars and showed some entertaining but instructional power point shows on health care, nutrition, dental care and hygiene to the patients who were waiting to see the doctor.

That afternoon we packed up all the tables, meds and supplies into our three vans, to caravan two hours up the high sierra mountains, where we stayed for two nights in donated cabins. The temperature drops severely in these mountains, so we donned heavy sweaters and threw logs on the fire! It never fails to impress the visiting volunteer doctors when they awaken to see the majesty of the gorgeous Sierras at 6,000 feet elevation. All six doctors all took a morning hike from 6-8 am before seeing almost 100 patients over eight hours. We posted signs all over the area in advance to advertise what medical services were being provided, along with where and when, so that people are prepared.

The brigade was held at the local school, under a large roofer basketball court. The entire area is surrounded by huge mountains that outline what was formerly a lake basin. Now mule-drawn plows till the fertile strips of land. Folks come down from the mountains on all sides to receive this medical help. Two men, an uncle and nephew, walked for five hours to come see the doctors. Many folks we had seen before at previous medical brigades. We keep records on each patient so the doctors are able to follow-up on the more serious cases. People are always so happy to see us again, and just so very grateful. That is the biggest reward of all!

Our youth are learning how to give eye exams, and read blood pressure and blood sugar levels in patients. My job is greeting and registration of each patient. It’s interesting learning how to adapt when some patients can’t read, write or remember their age! I spoke with a dear man of 75 years for about ten minutes when he first arrived and registered. About an hour later I saw him wearing his first pair of new glasses that suited him very well. When I complimented him, he asked, “Do I know you?” Ha! I explained that we had just talked earlier and I also knew him from previous brigades. He laughed out loud and replied, ”Well, that’s because I couldn’t see you before, but now I can!” The doctors detected and gave medicines for cases of gastronitis, eye diseases, infections, rashes, allergies, flu, high blood pressure, thyroid conditions, diabetes, and one case of gout from having too much red meat and tequila!

We offer our sincere thanks to Activated ministries for donating all the printed materials for these very grateful people. 200 magazines, 500 music CDs, tracts, 200 calendars, 200 message posters, 300 kids booklets and card games were all distributed.