Students and faculty alike have been busy this year in the Graceland University School of Nursing. The unpredictability of the Zika virus prevented the nursing students from traveling to Guatemala in May, as planned, however, that did not stop two faculty members Beverly South and Sharon Little-Stoetzel, their spouses and interpreter Linda Drown ‘70 from meeting the commitment made to partners in the area.
The group accomplished numerous projects and expanded the opportunities for future students. In addition to nursing students on the Independence campus, ENACTUS and the Community Development Club will have future opportunities in Guatemala, as well.
The team delivered donated health care supplies to two clinics in Panajachel and toured the hospital in Solala. They met with Dr. Pena with the Lake Atitlan Free Health Clinic and the social worker at the public health clinic in Pana and discussed future projects for Graceland nursing students. They agreed that such projects as establishing mobile health clinics in rural areas, rounding in communities with public health nurses and social workers, holding a health fair, and helping with mass immunizations would all be doable and beneficial both to Graceland students and to the communities.
They collaborated with a Guatemalan NGO, People for Guatemala, for building eight stoves in two days, which means no more open fires in eight houses. In an elementary school, they distributed toothbrushes donated by local dentists in the Independence area. South taught a six-hour mental health seminar to health professionals and community people with Drown as interpreter.
Linda Drown offers her time freely each year and pays all her own expenses. She worked many years as a Spanish teacher in the Fort Osage School District and is now retired and certified as a Spanish medical interpreter.
It is obvious by the reception the team receives from the local people and the agencies in Guatemala that they are making a difference in the lives of many. Graceland is proud of the work these faculty members accomplish, and South and Little-Stoetzel were able to present some of their work at the Transcultural Nursing Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, in October.
Students and faculty are looking forward to returning to Guatemala this May. Fortunately, the Zika virus is not prevalent in the mountainous regions where their activities take place, however, precautions will still be taken. Many have already put in a lot of hard work, along with students in the Community Development Club, in order to provide assistance to the Guatemalan citizens.
At the end of the year, students and faculty had raised $15,000 toward their goal of $20,000 to build a school in one of the small villages. The Guatemalan government will provide a teacher when the school is built. They also continue to raise additional funds for medical supplies. They are definitely dedicated. If you would like to help or have fundraising ideas, contact Sharon at firstname.lastname@example.org.