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1993 Salama & Coatepeque, Guatemala

Salama & Coatepeque, Guatemala 1993


January 18 - 22, 1993 -- Host Guatemala Lions Clubs of Salama & Coatepeque. Written by Robert Schwartz, OD

Week 1 Mission #7 Salama

Having fielded a huge team in 1992, and facing continued growth, it seemed logical to break our 1993 group into two groups on successive weeks. We did not count on 1993 being a consolidation year. A pregnancy, an engagement, a career change, the purchase of a practice, and some of our ODs taking simultaneous sabbaticals changed the chemistry.

The town of Salama, in the mountains NE of Guatemala City, and 3 hours by bus was chosen for site #1. 23 visionaries signed up. 5 optometrists, 4 students, 6 members of our physical medicine team, 8 support staff plus Sr. Barahona.

For Coatepeque, a low lying town 4 hours West of Guatemala city by bus. In the midst of a coffee and rubber tree growing area, we registered 6 ODs, 2 students, 3 therapists, and Sr. Barahona, plus 18 support staff.

Our optometric contingent worked very hard on both sites and our opticians, especially Ellen and Ted Collister and Sr. Barahona, were really stressed at Salama. The dispensary at Coatepeque headed by Larry Ulm, with Mary Fair, the Collisters and Gov. Barahona cruised. It should be noted that 10 people plus Sr. Barahona worked both weeks.

Through it all we had 2 great, rewarding, exciting missions, caring for over 1500 ocular patients at each location. Physical Medicine brought down an enormous supply of wheelchairs, crutches, walkers etc., treated over 300 patients and ran out of supplies early at each site.

Week #1 started with Dr. Doris Tirado stabilizing a motorcyclist who went over a small cliff right in front of our bus. Our bus had a flat tire going to and coming from Salama.

Week 2 Mission #8 Coatapeque

Week #2 featured bus exhaust problems on the way to Coatepeque. A patient having a heart attack during screening, with Dr. Mike Miller OD, DO treating her and accompanying her to the "hospital". Then finding her back in line 3 hours later because she was determined to get her eyes examined and glasses. Bombero driver Edgar Estrada was terrific for the two weeks.

Our hotel for week # 1, ($6/nite double), did have electric and running water. Infrequently warm. Hotel #2 ($7/nite double) also had electric and running water -- often warm. So much for plush accommodations.

The Lions Clubs at both Salama and Coatepeque were magnificent. They worked very hard during the clinic, and showed us very warm hospitality. It was a great one to one relationship.

Following our clinics, 5 of us went to El Salvador and were very favorably impressed with this county as a site for next year.

Roster Week #1

Hernando Alfonso, Ken Cottrell, Carl Sakovits, Lila Schwartz* , Bob Schwartz*.

Maria Gonzalez, Rob Bluchino, Diana Suarez, Paul Viglotti.

Physical Medicine
Doris Tirado MD, Ellen Levy OT, Mary Martin PT*, Sue Ann Eidson PT Sue Forrest, Terry Starrett.

Support Staff
Ellen Collister*, Ted Collister*, Hilda Corak*, Sheila Eberhardt*, Diana Grant*, Walter Jacobs*, Peggy Kozel*, Bob Kozel*, Alfonzo Barahona*.

Roster Week #2

Harry Hart, Mike Miller, Nivian Sanchez, Samar Awad.

Ena Leo, Viola Kanevsky

Physical Medicine
Julie Belkin OT, Bea Keats PT

Support Staff
Marlee Ort, Larry Ulm, Marty Fair, Darlene Boch, James Gatto, Nancy Hart, David Hart, Lee Hart, Virginia Hart, Ann Demarais.

* Attended Both Missions