Notes from Ken Dick, Friday April 1, 2011: Somalia, El Salvador: This is the squatter area on the fringe of San Salvador. We have visited this community twice before. We know we will be working under tarpaulins in crude wood structures and we have been told there is a threat of rain.
Somalia has grown in size and population since we were here last year. It is community of squatters located on the outskirts of San Salvador. After a relatively short drive of forty-five minutes we were unloading the buses and other vehicles and setting up for our day. We knew it would going to be a busy day when we arrived and the team could see several hundred people strung from the clinic entrance down the dirt road and off into the distance. Within 15 minutes we were attending to our first patients sending them through one of 13 medical stations, 5 dental stations, the pharmacy and our distribution depot.
The picture – were you to snap it with your camera – was much like previous days. Present and accounted for were the elderly; young mothers with babies; parents with small children; teenagers; the blind and the infirm (some in wheelchairs) – all of whom would be examined and receive required medical or dental treatment.
Were you to ask, “Why are we here?” then this snapshot would help, but would only tell you part of the story. The “thousand words” attached to the photo would tell a story of people who have had very little, if any medical attention at all. Most would not be able to afford such treatment. It’s likely many were seen the last time we were here, which makes us their regular “Family Clinic”!
Consequently, many arrive with sores or skin ailments that have gone untreated for a long period of time. Teeth are decayed or rotten. Others arrive with breathing troubles, like asthma that has not been attended to. Problems like diabetes, and other serious troubles are regularly uncovered. Troubles with lice, parasites and scabies are the norm.
Prior to leaving the community a local committee gathered with us to offer their thanks and present to us a plaque. At the end of a busy day, this just adds to the sense of satisfaction every team members feels; many good things have been accomplished this day (and this week).
On the bus, back into the heart of San Salvador, the stories from the week begin to surface. The team reflects on the tough cases, challenges, obstacles overcome and small victories. One thing was evident the teams thoughts – for each of us this has been a rewarding experience.
Speroway has brought first-class medical and dental care to thousands of people in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador. It seems like just yesterday that Speroway (then FTC Canada) launched the first team into Honduras and yet today, we happily anticipate bringing this type of care back to Central America as soon as we are able.
Ken Dick, President