Dr. Eduardo Arathoon, another Guatemalan educated in the United States, founded the CFLAG clinic in 1988 as a compliment to the social services provided by the Garcia family. CFLAG is a non-governmental organization that partners with the Asociación de Salud Integral and is supported primarily by the World Global Health Fund located near the Hospital General San Juan de Dios, the city’s largest public hospital. CFLAG does not charge patients for its services, nor for any medications held in stock and clinic is one of two outpatient clinics for HIV patients in Guatemala City. This clinic operates independently from the government-run hospitals and in fact, the clinic doctor’s act as consultants for patients admitted to the hospital on a regular basis. CFLAG provides comprehensive care and our team had the unique opportunity to observe clinical practice here by rotating through their different departments, which include Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Social Work, Psychiatry, Obstetrics, Nutrition, and a Microbiology Lab.
After spending two weeks in Guatemala City, the 2011 team traveled through the highlands to the Hogar Luis Amigo orphanage in the city of Quetzaltenango. Hogar Luis Amigo is a non-governmental, girls-only facility that can accommodate up 60 girls. At present there are 20 girls in residence, ranging in age from 9 to 17 years old. The girls are responsible for daily chores around the orphanage, including cleaning, looking after their chickens, and tending to the greenhouse. Few of the girls are true orphans with no families; many have been taken away from abusive or dangerous family situations. The girls are specially selected by the court based on their potential to succeed following release from the orphanage at age 18 or if the situation at their home improves. Some girls attend public school in the area and others, mostly those who are too old for the “grade-level” they are at, are taught at Luis Amigo.
Our work at Hogar Luis Amigo is facilitated through our relationship with the Woodland Baptist Church, which has been visiting and supporting Hogar Luis Amigo orphanage for the past 10 years. During our time there, we set up a community clinic in order to provide free medical care to the communities surrounding the orphanage. In addition, our team educated the girls using an adapted version of the Big Decisions curriculum, a comprehensive sexual health curriculum developed by Dr. Janet Realini of Healthy Futures of Texas. The success of this piloted education program has encouraged us to continue this activity during future trips and to explore additional opportunities for training and implementation.
Vamos Guatemala, as a new organization, hopes to foster the new relationships developed over the past year and to continue working with CFLAG and Hogar Luis Amigo. Two student groups are planning to return to the country this year – one over winter and one during the summer. Our 2011 team was especially moved by the status of women in Guatemala and we hope to continue to reach out to that population through sexual health education and medical and emotional support.
Students interested in participating in ¡Vamos Guatemala! should first enroll in the Foundations in Global Health Elective (ELEC 5047) and then complete an application form.
Current and Past Faculty Mentors
Dr. Ruth Berggren-Past
Dr. Tyler Curiel-Past
Dr. Richard Usatine-Past
Dr. Andy Muck-Past
Dr. Ted Wu
Dr. Nandini Mandlik
Dr. Mark Nadeau
Dr. Maria Montanez Villacampa
Daniel Wood, PA
Dr. Eli Katz