Students building an alfombra - carpet of flowers -  for Holy Week

Students and friends and family volunteering selling concessions to earn money for the trip

Painting of Sister Ann Manganaro holding and injured infant who just lost her parents in a bombing during El Salvador’s civil war

Students selling Guatemalan textiles at our spring fundraiser


  • May 5, 2024

Tomorrow a group of dedicated medical doctors, nurses, a pharmacist and a dentist will shepherd 11 future healthcare undergraduate students from Regis University to a special place in Cobán, Guatemala.  This will be my 13th time doing this. I am very much looking forward to the week we will spend together.  The fellowship with the medical team is unlike any kind of relationship I have ever had.  They are my dearest friends and we literally would do anything for one another. They are as close to family as you can get.  Watching the formation of the undergraduate students as they become healthcare providers is transformative.  The partnership we have built these last 4 years with Ciudad de la Esperanza is unique and sustaining.  

Ciudad de la Esperanza was founded in 2003 by Guatemalan diocesan priest, Sergio Godoy.  Padre Sergio formed a school and community center for a group of indigenous Mayan who were living off recycled materials from the landfill outside of Cobán, Guatemala.  The children had no access to school, and the families had little access to productive work.  Padre Sergio built the school, which educates 450 children from preschool through high school, and community center with the help of large grants from international non-profits.  He also has a psychologist and social worker who help families get mental and legal support.  We were asked by Padre Sergio in 2019 to help start a primary care clinic, so Regis University began the Guatemala Interfaith Medical Service Project. Ciudad de la Esperanza was able to secure a grant to construct a clinic, which consists of 3 exam rooms, a fully equipped dental room, and a pharmacy, which was completed in 2021.  Regis sent our first medical and student team in March of 2020, and have continued an annual trip since then.  This year Regis also sent a second team of graduate students in physical therapy and pharmacy to Ciudad de la Esperanza.  Ciudad secured another building grant and are in the process of completing a second building that will contain a lab and PT/rehab space.

I am not kidding when I say that the Guatemala work is what gets me out of bed every day.  Quite literally I do something for this project almost every single day of the year.  It takes an enormous amount of work to pull this project off every year.  But it doesn’t feel like work.  We have to raise about $67K every year to do the undergraduate trip.  That money pays for our travel, room and board, but also allows us to purchase the pharmaceuticals for the clinic for a full year and pay a stipend to keep a Guatemalan physician at the clinic year-round part-time.  But this year, with help from the Regis community we also undertook an additional project to help build capacity for the clinic at Ciudad de la Esperanza.  We partnered with a local Colorado non-profit, Project CURE.  Project CURE gathers used and new medical equipment in the US and repurposes it for communities around the world that have little access to healthcare infrastructure.  Project CURE puts together large cargo pods (40 foot semi truck trailers) full of hundreds of thousands of dollars of donated medical equipment based on what a community needs from a needs assessment.  We started fundraising for the $30K needed to ship the Project CURE pod last November and to my astonishment we met that goal in April.  So this summer the Project CURE cargo pod full of equipment for Ciudad’s lab and rehab room will be on its way to Guatemala.  The pod will also outfit 6 small ministry of health clinics around Cobán with basic medical equipment.  This investment in healthcare infrastructure has the potential to completely change the trajectory of so many lives in the area.  This is what we are talking about with this project when we talk about building capacity.  This partnership Regis now has with Ciudad de la Esperanza is there to build capacity for better health, and is an amazing enrichment opportunity for Regis students.  The students who are part of this project over the years tend to stay involved.  They are hooked - they want to help build capacity for marginalized communities.  

It was during my senior year of undergraduate studies at Regis, that I decided to go to medical school.  It was also during that year that I learned about a remarkable woman who became a guide for my own life.  Her name was Ann Managaro.  She was from St Louis and was a sister of Loretto and a pediatrician.  Sister Ann lived in El Salvador, taking care of a community of refugee Salvadorans that had been displaced by the civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s.  There was something about her story that ignited me and inspired me to look for ways to make a difference for marginalized communities as she had. The work in Guatemala has filled that niche for me. Sister Ann died young of metastatic breast cancer, but she has a clinic named after her in El Salvador where she made such a profound impact on the healthcare of the community.   Because she was such an influential person in my own story, I have formed our capacity building part of this project in honor of Sister Ann.  The Ann Manganaro Institute for Guatemalan Accompaniment (AMIGA) unofficially began last summer.  It is an account within Regis that is dedicated for the advancement of this health clinic partnership with Ciudad de la Esperanza.  The Project CURE pod is the first big project AMIGA is launching.  But ultimately my hope is that over the course of the next several years AMIGA would be funded enough to form an endowment that would support the stipend of the Guatemalan healthcare workers at Ciudad for the years to come.  This would ensure lasting access to medical care for this special community in Cobán.  AMDG - Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (Latin) “For the greater glory of God” the motto of the Jesuit order.

The students and medical team will post abou their experiences on the blog this week.  We travel all day Monday, so it will take a few days before more posts show up - but they are all under the archives tab - feel free to read about past years’ experiences there.  


Dr Lauri


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