Saturday, November 22, 2014

More helping hands for the people of San Antonio

Time is passing quickly and there is much to write about as there is no shortage of activity at el Centro ICO. In addition to programs such as student scholarships, pre-school programs, and lunches for the ancianas made possible by direct donations and sales of scarves, programs are offered through external organizations working in partnership with el Centre ICO.

In the previous blog I mentioned MAGA delivered cooking lessons to mothers of children identified as being under nourished. For the past two weeks members from JICA (Japanese International Cooperation Agency) have come to the centre to teach many practical skills such as an introduction to soap making. They demonstrated how to make candles from used cooking oil - a valuable skill in a community where electricity is expensive and power outages are common. Sixty women attended these classes free of charge. They also had everyone making small sacks from newspaper for use at the market instead of plastic bags that often make their way onto the pathways and landscape around San Antonio. 

In a second visit they instructed the 40 children attending vacation school in how to make baskets from newspaper.

For a change of pace Kathy and I helped Dr. John Snively, or Juan Jose as he is better known here, move his mobile dental office out of storage in the nearby community of Santa Catarina across the lake to Tzununa. I learned from John that poor dental health is an early sign of poor general health and that poor dental health at a young age if left untreated can lead to health problems as a person ages. 

John's first trip to the area was at the invitation of a Rotary Club member who asked him to visit San Antonio to conduct a preliminary assessment of dental health. What he saw was sobering with the majority of people suffering from some level of poor dental health. This first visit inspired John to return to Lake Atitlan yearly spending up to six months a year in Guatemala delivering dental services to small communities around Lake Atitlan including San Antonio whenever he is able to find a volunteer dental assistant. If you are interested in volunteering with the dental program contact Dr. John Snively at

As the terrain around Lake Atitlan is steep the task of moving the mobile dental office turned out to be quite the adventure and workout. It felt like we were accompanying the Indiana Jones of dentistry. From storage to a pick-up to a boat to a second truck then on foot up a steep path and finally up a flight of stairs we carried the equipment. We wish John well with his dental clinic in Tzununa and the residents of San Antonio look forward to visiting his mobile clinic in the new year.

Arriving at the dock

Unloading equipment at the dock in Tzunana

Down the ramp to the boat

Loading up the boat in Santa Catarina

Almost there only a steep path and stairs to go!

Indiana Juan carrying a mobile digital X-ray machine

If you would like to help support the people of San Antonio please visit

No comments:

Post a Comment