Category Archives: Guatemala

An AmeriCares Sample Pack

After a week of my internship at AmeriCares, I found myself swimming in a pile of papers, project proposals, and pamphlets. I had abandoned taking notes almost entirely—there was too much cool stuff to write down anyway. With 3,000 local partners worldwide in 90 countries, the global reach of Americares is both interesting and complex.

So, for you, I have compiled the “AmeriCares 7-Dose Sample Pack” — small doses from the AmeriCares portfolio that provide a wider insight into the complexity of the work we do.

Dose 1: Constantly Truckin’ Along

AmeriCares sends an average of 10 aid shipments each day by air, sea and road – and each year our warehouse in Stamford, CT turns over 9 times. This means the warehouse, which is 51,800 square feet, is filled with completely new medications and supplies 9 times a year. To give some perspective, this warehouse is larger than an NFL football field, which is only 43,560 square feet!

Dose 2: Affordable Health Care on the Homefront

AmeriCares operates 3 free clinics across the state of Connecticut, and will soon open a fourth – bringing quality, compassionate health care services to the uninsured and underinsured in AmeriCares home state. The clinics have permanent locations in Bridgeport, Norwalk, and Danbury; the new clinic will be located in Stamford, CT. Simple impact math: each DOLLAR given to the clinics provides FOUR DOLLARS worth of medical care.

Dose 3: A Primary Care Hub in India

At 12 locations over 15-day cycles, families living in the congested slums of Mumbai receive a unique opportunity—an opportunity to receive quality health care and free medication from mobile medical clinics run by the AmeriCares India team. In the most recent year of operation, the clinics provided care to 36,000 patients. But, this is only a small fraction of our work in country. Across India AmeriCares serves an estimated 10 million people in 21 Indian states with the help of 55 partner organizations. From the mobile clinics in Mumbai to disaster relief in Uttarakhand, Americares is there ready to support health care in India.

Dose 4: Combating Cancer in Cambodia

Through a partnership with AstraZeneca, AmeriCares is working in Cambodia to combat breast cancer — the leading cancer killer of women worldwide. At the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE in Phnom Penh, breast cancer treatment is coupled with caregiver training and patient education programs. The comprehensive initiative aims to raise awareness, improve early detection, and increase survival rates. In Cambodia, where an alarming number of women die each year as a result of breast cancer, often due to lack of awareness and high cost of treatment – this program makes a lifesaving difference.

Dose 5: Famines, Floods, and Cholera

Disaster—the word is both ambiguous and broad. But, when famine was declared in the Horn of Africa, AmeriCares was there with enough crucial medicines, supplies, and water purification to reach 180,000 people. When catastrophic flooding struck Pakistan, displacing more than 2 million people, we delivered more than $6 million in emergency aid. As cholera outbreaks occur across the globe, we combat the disease, which spreads rapidly in crowded camps after disaster strikes, by delivering treatments and supporting prevention training in Haiti, the Horn of Africa, Sierra Leone and worldwide.

Dose 6: Healthy Steps with TOMS Shoes

Health goes beyond taking the right medications and making the right appointments. For the children coming to the AmeriCares family clinic in El Salvador, good health continues with a new pair of TOMS Shoes. Since 2010, AmeriCares has worked with TOMS to deliver new shoes to impoverished children in several countries around the world — including Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Armenia, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Through its socially conscious One for One® model, the new TOMS Shoes these children receive will be replaced as they grow, to protect them from cuts, infections and soil-transmitted ailments like hookworms. Today, the children can tread softly and more safely toward better health.

Dose 7: When the Pain Doesn’t Wash Away, AmeriCares is There

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast —but just because the storm has passed does not mean that the devastation is over in the hearts and minds of survivors.

“Mental health services are often one of the most significant unmet needs after a disaster of this magnitude,” explained Garrett Ingoglia, AmeriCares vice president of Emergency Response. We’ve supported several programs that address this need – including counseling programs run by the YMCA in two-hard hit areas to help children cope with anxiety and trauma. Similar programs continue in Japan, to promote the mental well-being of survivors of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. These programs are a crucial part of the recovery after the initial emergency response.

Guatemala: Inequality and Great Need

Last month, Kristen Kelly, Senior Associate, Latin America & Caribbean Partnerships, traveled to Guatemala to visit our partner, the Order of Malta, and the institutions and communities they support with donated medicines and supplies delivered by AmeriCares. The visit focused on medical capabilities and ability to use the medical and humanitarian aid we deliver. Below are Kristen’s impressions of what she witnessed during her visit. 

In Guatemala, where malnutrition rates are high, children receive supplemental meals from AmeriCares.

Guatemala is unlike any other country I have seen in Central America. The inequality is hugely apparent, as is the need. AmeriCares delivers a large volume of medical and humanitarian aid to the country, and I soon discovered that not only do they put it all to good use – but they can use so much more.

The malnutrition rates are among the highest in Latin America, creating a crucial need for food and supplements, as well as treatments for maladies that are either a direct result of malnutrition or worsened by malnutrition.

“Now bedridden, the young mother could not cook for her family.”

I have a vivid memory of a young mother that I met. She was my age, but looked 10 years older. As she nursed her baby, the community health care worker explained the hardships this young mother faced: At just 25 years old, she had five children under the age of 10 and had just suffered a miscarriage. Now bedridden, the young mother could not cook for herself or her family. Her son, all smiles and laughter despite his circumstances, had just been given a XANGO meal pack provided by AmeriCares to make up for the food his mother was too weak to prepare.

There is a saying in Guatemala: Patients die with their prescription in hand. The lack of medicines and gaps in healthcare were more than evident in the woman we met who was suffering with a treatable goiter that obstructed her airway, making it difficult for her to breathe. She had been waiting for an appointment to see a specialist for six months after her initial visit to the hospital.

“At this hospital, every Friday is “Bullet-removal day.”

Violence is another “disease” that plagues Guatemala more than other Central American countries I’ve seen. The public hospital we visited cited trauma care as their highest priority and need.

Our tour began in the emergency room where we saw a doctor stitching a wound after removing a piece of a bala, or bullet, from the patient’s left finger. When I asked the doctor whether bullet wounds were commonplace, he explained that at this hospital, every Friday was el dia de las balas – or “Bullet removal day.” On the way out, firemen rushed in a gurney carrying a patient with a bullet wound located an inch from his carotid artery. The doctors were not surprised; this was not a rare occurrence.

Sometimes, in this line of work, you can almost become desensitized after visiting so many impoverished hospitals and clinics. This did not happen in Guatemala – it was a hugely impactful trip to a country that clearly has a desperate need for the help that AmeriCares delivers.