So, it happened again. This is my ninth year with the medical team. Like previous years of writing on this blog, I think I’m the last member of the team to write my thoughts about my experience in Coban, Guatemala. Some would say I’m a procrastinator, I don’t think I am. There is just so much to digest and think through about this experience, what parts do I share and how do I put it down in words.  Do I start at the beginning with the interviews and putting the team of students together? Is there one particular moment of the week in Coban that stands out? Is there something I want to share about a particular patient? While thinking over these questions, one phrase stands out to me. The phrase, just two simple yet important words, that were shared at one of the earlier evening debrief sessions with the team by one our newest members of the team, Antonio.  He shared, very simply, Somos Familia. Two simple yet important,words. 

We expanded our family with new members by choosing eleven beautiful students of Regis University. These students met every week for two semesters learning about Guatemala: its culture, its people, its government, etc. We also welcomed Antonio and Rabbi Spike this year – thank you Dr. Richard for the introduction. All the while building relationships with one another as a team and joining in the family of medical professionals: Lauri, Richard, Stephanie, Kristen, Christian, Deb, Ricky, Monse, Mary and me.  Somos familia. 

The team arrived in Coban on Monday, May 6th. Our first day of clinic on Tuesday was the beginning of a wonderful family reunion of sorts. We were greeted by many familiar faces: Juan Pablo, Dr. Ricardo, Rosario, even Spike the dog.  Other familiar faces started showing up as we saw patients in the clinic. Patients I had seen on previous trips. It was wonderful to see all of their faces again – Danny, Anaih, Irma, Benedicto, Sebastian, and Etty.  These are just a few of the 104 patients we saw in clinic over the week. Filling prescriptions is the primary focus when the students work with me in the pharmacy. When we dispense their medications at the end of the clinic visit, we also off a time for reflection and prayer with each patient. This is a special time for us. Praying with and for one another is a beautiful family tradition. Each team member and each patient came to clinic as a member of a nuclear family, but we all came together as members of a larger family who shares, supports, prays for, and loves one another. As families do.  Somos familia. 

We are now back at home. Life continues. Graduation for one of our students, summer break for others, back to work, back to our routines. Our Guatemalan family is back to their routines as well. We may not see our family members as often as we would like, but we can all look back fondly on our weeklong family reunion in Coban. Somos familia.

-Eric Bertelsen, RPH Pharmacist

Medical Team Pharmacist 


Popular Posts