The People of Hope / La Gente de Esperanza

 The last four days I’ve felt a whirl of emotions, some even that I’m experiencing for the first time. But as I reflect and write this blog post I feel an immense amount of gratitude. Gratitude towards the medical team for teaching and allowing me to be a part of this project, to my peers that have shared in my experiences, to all the donors that make this project possible, and to all the people of Coban for being so loving, patient, and for letting us take care of them. 

       When people would come into the clinic, some of them had a sense of hopelessness to them. Prepared to be told the same things, to be unheard, ignored, rushed, and to be left confused and still in pain. Typically this is not at the fault of the physics they saw, but due to the limited healthcare workers, high volume of people needing to be seen, and the very inadequate resources. 

      Nonetheless, after being looked over for so long, it’s hard to have hope. Kimberly, an 11 month old baby came in with Syndactyly, a condition where some of the fingers are fused together. Her mother wanted Kimberly to get a corrective surgery so that she can start doing things that a typical 11 month old should be able to do. Dr. Lauri explained to the mom that Kimberly is fully capable of living life and doing things without needing to get surgery. Kimberly isn’t disabled, she’s uniquely abled. It isn’t that she is unable to do things, she just hasn’t had the opportunity to because her mom thinks she’s incapable. After seeing Dr. Lauri and learning some physical therapy exercises with Dr. Deb their family left the clinic educated and with hope that baby Kimberly can and will live a life capable of doing things for herself. 

       Genesis, a 5 day old baby, who has a cleft palate, Trisomy 21, and Low Muscle Tone or “floppy infant syndrome”.  One of the first things that Dr. Deb asked the family was if they were told anything about her condition at the hospital when she was born and the father responded with “No, but I know that something is wrong and I don’t know how I can help her”. Dr. Deb then explained what it means to have low muscle tone and what that looks like for baby Genesis moving forward. She will take longer to develop motor skills but if she’s supported and encouraged by her family she eventually will be able to. The idea that if you expect me to do great things, I can. Although we weren’t able to give a cure or give exercises since she was only 5 days old, we were able to listen and see the family, to educate on their baby’s condition, to give them a sense of hope that their baby will be okay. 

        After the last day of clinic, we had a Shabbat Dinner at La Ciudad de la Esperanza, during the end of the celebration one of the directors of the community gave a few words in which she said, “This isn’t the city of hope because of the buildings, it’s the people that benefit from La Ciudad de la Esperanza”  

A la gente de Coban,

     Gracias por todo lo que hacen. Gracias por ser amable y paciente, gracias por ser increíblemente fuerte y por confiar en nosotros, gracias por ser vulnerable. Gracias por compartir su amor y cultura, gracias por mostrarme su belleza, y gracias por ser La Ciudad de La Esperanza. Aunque puede que no me recuerden, nunca los olvidaré.

To the people of Coban, 

      Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for being kind and patient, thank you for being incredibly strong and for trusting in us, thank you for being vulnerable. Thank you for sharing your love and culture, thank you for showing me your beauty, and thank you for being the City of Hope. Although you may not remember me, I will never forget you.  


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