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There are many medical groups that come to visit the San Lucas Mission to volunteer, learn about the efforts in San Lucas, and participate in the cross-cultural experience the mission offers. Medical groups spend most of their time working in outlying communities. Through working alongside Guatemalans, receiving talks from community members, and observing the local culture, group members can learn about the efforts of the Mission clinic and the rural healthcare program, as well as the situation of healthcare in Guatemala.
Due to the nature of work associated with medical volunteering, a maximum of 15 people per group is allowed.
Medical volunteers, after receiving an orientation and a tour of the projects, typically accompany local health professionals into outlying communities. A typical day usually involves eating breakfast at the Mission and packing a lunch. A health promoter will meet you at the Mission. Transportation will be provided to the clinic where medications/supplies for the day can be prepared and picked. Some groups do this the night before for efficiency reasons. Any follow-up regarding patients from the prior day with the clinical staff can be done at this time. Then you will be transported to one of the outlying small communities, usually 20-30 minutes down the mountain. Most communities have a community center available for medical work. The clinic is set up and the lead health promotor will have arranged with the local health promoter ahead of time and patients will begin arriving as you set up. Clinic usually runs through the afternoon followed by pack up and the return trip home.
It is required that medical groups bring a licensed physician in order to provide medical service in the communities.
The video about Mission history and Fr. Greg is also encouraged to view in the evenings.
During the festivities of Holy Week, Christmas / New Year's, and the San Lucas Feast Day (Oct.18), San Lucans do not work. Groups are welcome to visit the Mission, but should be aware that typical site work will not be available.
Translation can be provided although many groups choose to bring their own translators. Short-term volunteers are not required to speak Spanish, although being able to converse with Guatemalans – particularly in a medical context – will greatly facilitate the experience. Remember that Spanish will be the second language for most of your patients who speak a Mayan dialect at home. Your health promoter can help if something seems lost in translation.
If your group would like to bring medical supplies for the clinic, a complete list can be found here. Medications for your time in San Lucas, need to be either purchased through the clinic prior to your trip, or you are asked to bring them. We will need to get the details of the medications, amount and expiration dates (need to be 13 month before expiration) to the clinic so that we can get the customs red stamp to ease bringing them into the country.
Groups stay in one of the many hotels in the San Lucas area – if you have visited San Lucas before and are familiar with a particular hotel, requests can usually be honored. Meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) are eaten at the mission, with lunch being the biggest meal of the day. All volunteers and staff members share meals. There are phones in the Mission to call the States.
Visiting groups are asked to offer a donation of approximately $100/day per profession and $65/day per student, which includes room and board at the Mission and transportation to and from the airport in Guatemala City, and costs associated with the medical infrastructure required to host your group (daily transportation, promoters, administration costs at the clinic, etc). Money can be exchanged in the mission office with a personal check, is preferred.
Cultural sensitivity and openness to the local culture is paramount in ensuring that a cross-cultural experience is as fruitful and as mutually dignifying as possible. In facilitating the pre-arrival preparation, it is heavily recommended that groups visit the Preparation Supplies page, to download the package of preparation materials for visiting medical groups. New groups are required to connect with either Dr. Paul Wise or Dr. Dan Fulton with the Medical Clinic Committee to receive an orientation and ensure volunteer requirements are met. Returning groups are encouraged to connect to discuss relevant changes San Lucas.
It is recommended that medical volunteers come with an open mind and willingness to do a variety of medical activities – needs of the Mission healthcare program vary from season to season and groups should therefore be flexible, to be humble, without preconceptions, and open to learning will ensure a meaningful stay in San Lucas Tolimán.
Travel Information: Up-to-date information about traveling to and from Guatemala can be found at the Department of State’s Guatemalan Travel Information Page.