Rosa’s Excellent Medical Jornada

Rosa Garcia- Garcia managing the Jornada
Rosa Garcia- Garcia managing the Jornada

The lines were long but calmly moving towards the intake desk on Day Two of Rosa Garcia-G’s giant Jornada -Medical Workshop. The leader from Patanatic knew that her new neighbors needed medical attention and she was getting it done with a little help from her friends.

“Some of these people were very sick” was all she would allow herself to say.

And, Rosa knows because she spent two days translating to and from the Quiche Mayan language that her neighbors speak. (The 26 person medical team from Quetzaltenango speaks only Spaniah.)


She would tell us that it is a “long story” how she discovered that the town needed so much assistance.

 “Somehow, the women came down to the Patanatic Feed The Children – Feeding Center

.  And, somehow, maybe by miracle, the medical volunteers (the Adar club of Bethel Presbyterian Church) were recommended at the exact right time. And, so it happened…”


Juana Barreno and Petrona Zapeta
Juana Barreno and Petrona Zapeta

On Day One, FTC transported Patanatic’s A-Team up the road to Panimache to deliver the Jornada. Accompanied by eight women from her aldea, Rosa was ready to run the event for the newcomers. (The Panimache group had relocated in the last four years.   They settled in a distant territory -that was still traditionally Quiche lands-  but had left home and family two hours away.)  So, the medical group that introduced themselves by distributing Incaperina and giving a dental hygiene training was very welcome.

Meanwhile, the two chief chefs, Juana Barreno and Petrona Zapeta, made themselves useful by setting up operations in the local gradeschool’s kitchen.  When we arrived on the morning of the second day, these two were blithely stirring 20 or so chickens into a massive calderon. The Panimache women kept the cooking wood coming and donated beans and rice to help feed the volunteers.

Once patients were processed they formed tight queues along the windowed walls.   Sometime they were nervously glancing at the room numbers in their hands.  Eleven doctors and three dentists and their support team delivered care to 230 people in these disciplines: General Medicine, Pediatrics, Gynecology and Dentistry.  Treatment spaces were created in classrooms, where sheets divided an examining table from the consulting desk.  A field Laboratory – with a gang of techs busy reading blood samples – and the Pharmacy with four people actively culling through the medicines and filling prescriptions where in two other rooms.

Under the school’s high laminate roof, colorfully dressed ladies speaking Quiche waited in their floral or flame stitched guipils. (The traditional blouses displayed the carefully embroidered sun ray collars – a signature of their ancestral home, Chichicastenengo.). They talked quietly and appeared a bit weary. The youngest girls clung tightly to their mothers while their older sisters and grannies stood by. Their murmurers filled the space with fear and stoicism.

On Sunday looking over the photos, Rosa appeared to be proud of her good work. Clearly, the Community had been served.

L->R /vice President, President, Gaby Calderon, Altagracia Hernandez of Feed the Children celebrate successful Jornada.
L->R /vice President, President, Gaby Calderon, Altagracia Hernandez of Feed the Children celebrate successful Jornada.

“The patients left smiling. The volunteers enjoyed our cooking and everyone (Adar, FTC and the cooperative volunteers) participated in the action. Together, we provided two days of healing for Panimache.” she concluded modestly.

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Author: diane e. dreyfus

on the road until they put the lid down

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