In the remote, rural communities outside Comitancillo, the dental and optometry brigade team stands together with community members. Being shoulder to shoulder helps us all see more clearly in the Guatemala highlands.
We see gratitude. It is everywhere.
We learn much from those who continue to smile in the face of adversity; from those who open their hearts to, and trust in, the kindness of strangers; from those whose gratitude for life shines through in even the most brief of encounters and despite daily challenges likely beyond our comprehension.
And for this, it is we who are truly indebted.
We learn to open our eyes. To really see.
We see family gardens growing green and meet mothers whose participation in women’s agriculture co-ops is feeding families. We see (and giggle with) children who are learning from these strong women. We see healthier futures.
We learn the value of basic healthcare. And access to it.
Although our temporary clinics are located in the heart of a different remote community each day, access can still be a journey. For most, it is by foot. For some, it is in the care of older siblings. For one 92-year old man, it is on the back of his son, across the miles and over the hills.
We learn to do more. With less.
In rural classrooms – with chairs and desks and tarps, with plastic bins and pressure pots and sterile tools, with ziploc bags and sharpies and prescription pads, with letter-less eye charts and with an abundance of care – we see almost 1,000 patients.
We learn to slow down. Because what’s the rush.
There is always time for one more warm community gathering. One more song. One more dance (one more macarena!). One more bowl of soup. One more patient. One more eye exam. One more translation. One more handshake; one more high five. One more story. And all too soon, one more one last goodbye.
With great privilege comes great responsibility.
Upon return from brigade travel, what is truly important in life is abundantly clear. What can be a struggle to make sense of, however, is our own clear abundance. It can be hard to make sense of it all. To wrap one’s head around inequalities.
But, we are all connected. And with great privilege comes great responsibility. To speak. To act. To share. To make a positive impact in whatever way one can.
This is how we ripple.