Geiger gains valuable experience in Guatemala
By Diane Geiger
Geiger, along with 24 other WSU undergrads accompanied the 75-person crew of doctors, dentists, nurses, medical students, as well as numerous other health care providers and translators. The goal of the trip was to provide medical and dental care to the people who otherwise would have no access or funds for quality care.
The majority of the days involved a fast-paced, high-intensity medical/dental clinic. The staff would go to rural villages and host clinics in buildings that were oddly comparable to the play shed at Kyle's old grade school Chauncey Davis Elementary in South Bend, states Geiger. One day consisted of construction at the local day care where children suffering from malnutrition received food, care, and supervision.
"Hundreds of men, women, and children would patiently line up awaiting care daily and staff would not leave the area until every person had been seen," Geiger said.
As a Spanish minor, Geiger had the opportunity to translate for the dentists. He recalled that on one of the days he was translating for a little girl, he asked her where her parents were and she said they were at home. When asked where is home, she told him that she had walked herself four miles all by herself to get her teeth pulled. She was barefoot and only 12-years-old.
During the week, Geiger also assisted a team of plastic surgeons that volunteered at a local hospital. The majority of the surgeries were cleft-palate repairs. Other surgeries included amputations, skin grafts for burn victims, and tumor removals.
"This experience can be summed up as one of the most eye-opening weeks of my life.,” Geiger said. “I have never been outside of the country let alone to a third world country. The quiet and grateful nature of the people we helped is something I will not soon forget. So often people would get up from their makeshift dental chairs, (which were actually just plastic lawn chairs) and proceed to hug and thank each and every one of us. Never before have I been able to engage in such hands-on direct service. This experience was so rewarding on both a personal and humanitarian level. I cannot give enough thanks.”