Christmas in the Air and New Years in Comitancillo

The 2015 Dispatch from our travels in Guatemala.

This year marks a decade since Alianza was formed, and two years since my last visit to Comitancillo, that dusty, desperate place high in the mountains of northwestern Guatemala that has captured my attention for so long. In the face of almost impossible and never ending difficulties, the strength and resilience of its people is too remarkable to ignore. This Dispatch is divided into five segments: people, eating & sleeping, health & safety, work and animals. The travelers were: myself (Rebekah), my husband, Fernando, and our seven year old daughter Marissa. Please let me start by introducing you to the people we met, in order of appearance, on this journey.

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Rebekah Shoop interview by CBC Hamilton.

McMaster doctor saving lives in Guatemala.

Doctor Rebekah Shoop speaks to CBC Hamilton

Working as a doctor in Guatemala has shown McMaster graduate Rebekah Shoop just how lucky Canadians are in our health care system. “Things were pretty extreme,” Shoop told CBC Hamilton. “It was shocking to me, and it was eye-opening. It made me realize that all of us as human beings are so fragile.”

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Juan Jose Chilel

Juan Jose Chilel Lopez

Juan Jose Chilel

A 14 year old boy named Juan Jose Chilel Lopes is looking for your support.

He is the nephew of our law student, Maria Lopez, who is herself a very high achiever.

He is finishing primary school this year, and hopes to go into “Basico” next January.

His grades are attached — as you can see, nothing below 90% in any subject. Quite impressive.

His aspiration is to be a doctor.

 

Juan Jose in his own words:

My dream is to get Comiteco doctors, nurses, lawyers, social workers and tradespeople all through school so they can generate their own income, and help others and STOP GOING TO THE FINCAS!!! Boy , would I love to see those finca owners have to do their own dirty work.

Please, contact us to learn how to help Juan Jose.

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Clinic construction update – phase 2

Clinic construction update
Clinic construction update

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Dispatch from Comitancillo:
March 2012.

Nothing about Guatemala makes sense to me. After more than ten years of being in and out of the country, three of those years spent living there almost full time, it continues to confound and intrigue me. My friend Mary’s Lonely Planet Guide Book echoes one aspect of my confusion when they note that when interacting with most Guatemalans, one finds them to be courteous, humble, friendly and surprisingly accepting of foreigners given all that they have suffered at the hands of outsiders (yes, I am talking about you, School of The Americas, the CIA and, more recently, the Vancouver-based GoldCorp Mining and their Guatemalan subsidiary, Montana). Paraphrasing the Lonely Planet authors , you find yourself asking, where are all the nasty sons of bitches who wreaked havoc on this country between 1960 and 1996, leaving more than 250,000 civilians dead or disappeared and half a million more displaced within or across the borders of this small, densely populated Central American country.

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Clinic construction begins …

Clinic construction begins
Clinic construction begins
Clinic construction begins
Clinic construction begins

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What’s New

In January of 2011 I travelled to Guatemala to assist in the final drafting of a letter of agreement to build a community health centre in the aldea of Chicajalaj, just outside the town of Comitancillo. Dr Wilma Arruda and Tony Arruda assisted with initial discussions of the agreement. The purpose of the centre is to house the local public health nurse, Alianza’s programs and treatment programs offered by visiting volunteers. Continue reading

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News From Rebekah

Rebekah Shoop

Rebekah Shoop

It’s a little before noon as I sit down to write. I am just back from a walk in a frozen white wonderland, along a trail beside the Grand River here in Cambridge — a long way from the sun-baked hills of Comitancillo, Guatemala. I can’t believe I have lived here in Ontario for almost six years now – ever since McMaster accepted me into their medical program. I still remember the day my Dad called me in Comitancillo to read me the letter of acceptance; I was filled with a mixture of elation, uncertainty and disbelief as I stood in my little room above the clinic we had opened two and half years earlier. Continue reading

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Transition of the Alianza Board to Ontario

In the interests of efficiency and effectiveness, we have decided to transition the Alianza Board to Ontario on April 1st, 2012. Our founder and Alianza coordinator Dr. Rebekah Shoop has completed her medical training and is now practicing in Ontario. Continue reading

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Alianza Dispatch from Hamilton

Rebekah and Alianza staff 2009

Alianza Staff: Magnolia, Rebekah (Coordinator),
and Sofia

Amazingly, almost a year has passed since I returned from my 8 week clinical experience in Guatemala. In July and August of 2007 I returned to Comitancillo, not as coordinator of Alianza, but as a medical student from McMaster Medical School on an international elective. In addition to learning about medicine and patient care from my Cuban mentor at the public health center, I also touched base with our frontline staff, Sofia, Magnolia and Carlos. Continue reading

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