Don’t Forget About the ‘Border Children’

The summer of 2014 saw a surge of unaccompanied children at the US’s southern border.  Most of these children had traveled from Central American countries like Honduras and Guatemala.  Many were fleeing violence, poverty, hunger. Don’t forget about them.  We haven’t.

Photo by Jude Joffe-Block/Fronteras Desk

 

Many of the children who came across the border remain in facilities across the US as they await disposition of their individual cases.  On their own, or sent by families, they arrived seeking connections with families already in the states, all seeking something better.  The increased number of children taxed the border control systems, forcing many into makeshift holding facilities and then into shelters across the country. In August we shipped hundreds of blankets and hygiene kits to children being temporarily housed in shelters in six states.

Recently we sent another large shipment, via our global partner FedEx, to a number of shelters that will begin housing children in February 2015 as they await their immigration hearings.  The kids that will be housed in these shelters range in age from 7-17 and most are in their early teens.

supplies shelved

Working with the Urban Strategies/National Latino Evangelical Coalition we delivered medical supplies to nine shelters in five states.  We learned that the greatest needs are for wound care, chicken pox treatment and pain relief.  Thanks to the partnerships we’ve developed with medical supply and pharmaceutical donors we’ve been able to meet the needs of the shelters and the care of the children.
Examples of the supplies we shipped:  sunscreen, tape, gauze, OTC meds from Johnson & Johnson; Alcohol swabs from BD; thermometers and covers from Welch Allyn; and ointment from Calmoseptine.

supplies laid outHeart to Heart International will continue to help as many of these shelters as we can.  You can help us do this.

Support our efforts to deliver care to these children.  Help us help them.

Donate to meet the greatest need

 

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supplies arrive

sorting suppliesmore sortingtwo by two w supplies

 

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Assessment Team in Guatemala… Part III

Our joint Heart to Heart & Welch Allyn Assessment Team continues to report from Guatemala, as they search out ways to broaden access to healthcare.
Today, we have some guest bloggers — the team from Welch Allyn. Here are some of their thoughts and photos from the ongoing trip.
– DW HHI

Welch Allyn Team: We had a long day in the southern area of Guatemala working with doctors and medical students. Their passion and commitment is contagious.  We came home in a driving rain storm through some mountains with poor roads which made the trip even more, shall we say… interesting!

The next day we spent time at two very different hospitals in Antigua, Guatemala. We were hosted by The Order of Malta, a charitable organization. The first hospital we visited was Hermano Pedro Obras Sociales—a Catholic, private hospital run by the Franciscans. They have approximately 350 beds and also see another 300 people per day for basic clinical, nutritional and clothing needs. Check out the amount of people waiting to be seen by a clinician.

The staff at Hermano Pedro Obras Sociales was very professional and their funding is provided by private donations. The surgeons who provide care at the hospital are all volunteers from the United States and Canada. They typically bring teams of clinicians with them as well as their own equipment.  Most of the monitors and surgical instruments were very dated. They did have an internal computer system where they stored medical records. As you might imagine connectivity and true electronic medical records are not in place. Welch Allyn provides equipment through Heart To Heart and patients are simply asked to pay whatever they can afford for the care.

Our next stop was a government run hospital called The National Hospital of Antigua which serves all types of patients. They see approximately 6000 patients per month and are cash strapped. They had one vital sign monitor for a large emergency room and one EKG for the hospital. This facility was also a teaching hospital.

 

 

 

They don’t have a lot of technology or equipment because they don’t have the biomeds to repair equipment. The needs are great, as you might expect, and if not for organizations like The Order of Malta and Heart to Heart, they would be hard pressed to survive. Take a look at an ambulance at the National Hospital.  The amazing thing about the healthcare professionals at both facilities is that they are consummate professionals who do their best to help patients. They care deeply about their jobs and for the people they care for. They do not complain and are grateful for our interest and for the solutions we provide. They share everything, including training, and any medical device is received with incredible gratitude and respect.

There is a special spirit throughout Guatemala that has something to do with the Mayan culture and the melting pot of ethnicities that seek to find a way to collaborate and help each other. This spirit of community has energized all of us!

Tomorrow we travel to San Andres Itzapa to a convent that provides healthcare and recently installed Welch Allyn equipment.

Until then… ¡Que tengas un dia magnifico!

Matt Chadderdon
David Allyn
Danielle Gillmore
Sue Mangicaro

Assessment Team in Guatemala… Part II

Our joint Heart to Heart & Welch Allyn Assessment Team continues to travel in Guatemala, exploring ways to broaden access to healthcare.
More now from Ginny Stehle, Heart to Heart’s Corporate Relations Director, with more thoughts and photos from the ongoing assessment trip. Part I is here. Remember to click the photos for full size.
–DW HHI

June 5/6, 2012
Guatemala City & Antigua

Ginny:  The team returned to Camino Seguro in Guatemala City to work as volunteers for the day.  We began at the main school building where we assisted with a high school English class. We sat and carried on a conversation with one or more teenagers, ages 16-18, to help them improve their English skills.  A young teacher from the UK named Grant, gave us some assistance to get the conversations going. It was challenging to find questions that would get them to talk. They are just like young people everywhere! They have hopes and dreams, they struggle with understanding what they want to do with their lives, they experience peer pressure and want to appear as though they fit in.  They were polite and cooperative.

 

 

 

 

Our next stop was the Planting Seeds preschool and we arrived just in time for recess.  The children were released to the playground for this period to have free play.  There were about 90 children between the ages of three and six. What a hoot!  The Welch Allyn team members were assigned to assist the teachers with supervising and playing with the children. The team members jumped right in and it was very difficult to tell who enjoyed the one on one interaction more–the children or the volunteers.  It was interesting to see that these children were already speaking some English to the volunteers more easily than the older children who did not have access to this program prior to high school.

Two lovely Guatemalan women, Isa and Martha, were already very busy in the kitchen when I arrived. I was assigned to drying platos (plates), and watched as Martha expertly began to mix Masa Harina with water to make tortillas. Isa added ingredients to  a huge pot on the stove to make  a sort of pudding with an iron and vitamin fortified mix for the afternoon snack.  I was thrilled when they agreed to teach me how to make tortillas, and must confess that mine were not pretty.  Isa has three children in this program and was so grateful to be a part of it all.   In the program, children are fed breakfast, lunch and a snack to take home every day.

We also brought some brand new medical equipment for the clinic and Dave from Welch Allyn took a few minutes to teach the clinic nurse how to use the Macroview Otoscope, and the PanOptic Ophthalmoscope.  She learned very quickly and was surprised at how much more she could see with these new instruments.  She quietly replied, “Muchas gracias, we do not have technology like this in Guatemala. This will help us very much.”   Her sincerity was touching.
I concur. ¡Muchas Gracias Welch Allyn!  Thank you also to Camino Seguro for all that you do transform lives for these families, and all that you have done to transform us through such meaningful service.  Heart to Heart International is excited about the possibilities of working together in the future.

We next travel to a small village to join a medical team of US medical students and physicians.  They already have a Heart to Heart Ready Relief Box™! We’ll deliver more equipment, conduct some instrument training to the students and assist with the medical clinic.

–Ginny

Assessment Team in Guatemala…

Part of our mission here at Heart to Heart International is to broaden access to healthcare for those in need, here in the US and around the globe.  Currently, we have a team comprised of Heart to Heart staff and representatives from Welch Allyn, a HHI global partner, in Guatemala accessing those needs and exploring ways to broaden that healthcare access by joining with local, in-country partners.
Here now, Ginny Stehle, Heart to Heart’s Corporate Relations Director, with some thoughts and photos from the ongoing assessment trip.
–DW HHI

From Antigua, Guatemala
June 4, 2012
Ginny: Today we are working with an organization named Camino Seguro.  We began our day in their Antigua office, where we watched a short but powerful video and prepared for the day ahead.  We then drove to Guatemala City to began our tour at the public cemetery which provided an overlook of the city garbage dump, one mile below where we stood.

We watched a parade of trucks enter the chasm from the left, dumping their contents on the floor beneath us. Backhoes moved the heaps of trash around, and many people, who looked like ants, scavenged the piles of trash, loading items into large bags on their backs. Vultures circle overhead.  Our guide, Leigh Ellen told us that this dump supports the local zone economy and employs about 3000 people who buy annual permits to do their work. They walk 1 mile to get to the dumping area from the entrance to the grounds, and they have to carry their treasures out via the same route. They earn approximately $3 per day for their labors. Today, only those 14 and older can enter the dump. Before a huge methane fire in 2007, children were allowed to scavenge there as well as the adults.

We made our way to Camino Seguro’s main school, which has morning and afternoon programs for younger and older children. We stopped in the cafeteria to have a hot lunch of stir fry beef, vegetables and rice with the children.  The meals are nutritionally balanced and clean, purified water is offered at every meal to encourage the children to stay away from sodas and sugary drinks. This is an after/before school program intended to keep the kids off the streets and supplement the local public school education. The programs cover a lot: teaching the kids skill to carry into life, as well as providing nutrition, hygiene, healthcare, mental health, artistic expression and lots of positive role models. Amazing programs!! Amazing people.

A young American woman named Hanley Denning founded the program to get the children out of the dump. Her vision was to give them someplace safe to go, to raise their self esteem, give them love, nutrition, education, and so much more to enrich their lives and show them a way out of this life.
The name Camino Seguro means Safe Passage, the way out. Denning died in an auto accident in 2007, but the program has carried on and expanded with dedicated staff and volunteers. The current Executive Director knew Hanley, came as a volunteer and got hooked. His wife now heads the educational curriculum.  Hanley’s spirit is evident everywhere. It is amazing what this young woman started out with, and where it is today.  It’s nothing short of miraculous.

The program started with 40 children in a small church building in 1999, and now has more than 600 children in the program between ages of 4 and 18 and three facilities in the areas surrounding the dump in Guatemala City. The children’s families are also part of the program, and benefit by its services. What has grown in this place is just amazing!!

 

 

 

Our Heart to Heart & Welch Allyn team toured and learned quite a lot today.  We met the Executive Director, the Physician and Nurse, delivered some new donated Welch Allyn medical equipment for their clinic, listened to what they needed in their clinics, and participated in a health education class with the 4th grade students. Today’s lesson was about not smoking. It was great fun to interact with the children.

Tomorrow we’ll return to the same location and get to work as volunteers. It should be interesting!

 

–Ginny