La Paz de Susan

Link here to La Paz de Susan, Sister Susan Dewitt's blog about working with PazSalud and living in El Salvador from 2009 through 2013.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Missioning Rosanne

Monday, March 24th was the 34th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.  As always, there were commemorative marches in San Salvador and elsewhere among Monseñor Romero's beloved people. 

For us in the El Salvador Health Mission, Monday was also memorable because of the missioning of Rosanne Ponzetti as the new System Vice President for Mission Services.  We were especially delighted because Rosanne knows El Salvador through a 2010 Immersion Mission, and she's been a staunch friend of PazSalud since.  Rosanne and her family sponsor one of the children with disabilities we have been assisting.  Now she will be responsible for the overall direction of PazSalud, as well as for mission integration and ethics. 

Here's a photo from the missioning: from left to right, Carol Aaron, SVP for Culture and People; Rosanne; Alan Yordy, CEO and Chief Mission Officer; and Dr. Howard Graman, SVP, CEO and Chief Mission Officer of the PeaceHealth Medical Group.  It gives me joy to point out that every one of them has been part of a PazSalud mission!

Later in the day, Kathy Garcia, Rosanne and I met with Angela Dellinger and Mara Kershaw who are planning PeaceHealth's new leadership development program and want to include an immersion mission in El Salvador, probably beginning in fall, 2015.  It's a great challenge for Kathy and Darren, and I know it will be a life-changing experience for the participants.

Susan Dewitt, CSJP

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Adios, Doña Maria de la Paz

We've just learned that Marvin Hernandez' grandmother, Maria de la Paz Hernandez, has passed away.  We feel a special closeness to her because she was first one of our patients in the Estanzuelas Medical Mission in 2013 and then a cataract surgery patient in the National Hospital at Santiago de Maria in May, 2013.  Her grandson, Marvin, was our superb community leader for Estanzuelas, in charge of organizing the volunteers, outreach to the community, and local logistics. 

Here's a photo of Doña Maria de la Paz that Darren sent:

We're glad that Doña Maria de la Paz was able to see her children and grandchildren better during this last year, and we're very grateful that we were able to meet this beautiful woman.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pre-surgery meeting

Darren writes:

During the general mission in February, PazSalud screens potential candidates for cataract or pterygium surgery at our annual eye surgery mission.  This year in May we will be working out of the National Hospital in Cojutepque, a town close to San Pedro Perulapan where the majority of our patients live.

On Sunday, March 16th we had a meeting with our patients to talk about the process, the surgery, the requirements and to address their many questions and concerns.  Last year we found that having this meeting dramatically increased participation in the surgeries.   A special issue this year is that Cojutepeque Hospital requires our patients to have a series of pre-exams in order to determine their fitness for surgery.

Yesenia, our local volunteer coordinator, organized the meeting.  We brought in Don Lito, a former PazSalud patient from San Rafael Cedros who received cataract surgery at Cojutepque Hospital in 2011, to talk about his experience and answer specific patient questions.

Rosa Aguiar, a community organizer from Comasagua who helped register the surgery patients and who will work with us in May during the mission, talked about the process of prepping and having surgery and the follow-up care.

Possibilities for our 2015 mission

Darren writes:

After PazSalud's general medical mission in February, Kathy and I immediately began planning for the 2015 general mission.  We visited a great little village called Tamanique in the hills of the coastal state of La Libertad and looked at this potential space - a recently built community center - to house the mission.  Spacious and well-lit with secured surrounding space, this facility has a lot of potential.

A view of the outside front of the building - we would have plenty of room for patients to wait:


The interior space - simple and flexible, like our space this year in Perulapan:

One large corner of the building hosts a machine/metal shop which we would need to temporarily relocate to accommodate the clinics.

The facility comes complete with its own guard dog!

Voting for a New President

El Salvador's Supreme Tribunal for Elections (TSE) has now announced that the March 9th Presidential Runoff Election was won by Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the FMLN, the party of the left.  This was a squeaker election - the opposing ARENA party, led by San Salvador's Alcalde, Norman Quijano, was only 6000 votes behind Sanchez Ceren, and ARENA continues to dispute the results.  However the army and police have both gone on record as supporting the winner announced by the TSE - and in a country with a long history of military rule, that was a central declaration for democratic rule.

Most international observers have called the elections free and fair with few irregularities which is a very strong, positive step in the right direction for El Salvador.

Here are some of Darren's photos from election day:

A street scene from the voting center in Escalon, near the PazSalud base house:

The red, white and blue tricolor is ARENA's signature.  Here's the FMLN's red tent:

And here's the careful process for certifying a voter, who has to present his official identity document and be matched to his photo and ID by poll workers before he can vote.  The electoral process has been carefully designed to be transparent. The count of votes at a particular election center, for example, is done in public and certified by the poll officials and party representatives. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A good fit

Darren writes:
A very special to thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make the PazSalud medical mission in San Pedro Perulapan so successful.  The countless hours by the the US and Salvadoran volunteers paid off as we were able to see a record 1,647 patients in 4.5 days and deliver much needed care to an under-served population.  Congratulations to all and thank you to all the wonderful people we met along the way.

Susan adds:
This huge open space was a "best ever" location for our mission.  We've been in everything from a municipal child-care center (tiny!) in San Rafael Cedros to a spacious school in San José Villanueva, but our friends at ACOSAMA kindly allowed us to use their big auditorium where we could set up everything - four separate clinics, the optic shop, the pharmacy, space for breaks and lunches, and plentiful space for waiting patients - under one big roof.  How we wish we could bundle up the auditorium and take it with us!  But then we wouldn't have the fun of watching Kathy and Darren map out alternative ways to fit our big mission team into a new and challenging space.