MedLend Medical Missions


*MedLend thanks Hospital De La Familia in Nuevo Progresso, San Marcos, Guatemala for generously hosting our mission to Guatemala May 22 - June 1, 2010. We had a great time, and learned some valuable lessons from your hospital. Thank you!

Guatemala is located below Mexico and Belize. It lies above El Salvador and Honduras. The Pacific Ocean waves onto its western coast, and the Carribean Sea sneaks onto the Eastern seaboard. This location places Guatemala directly in the path of hurricanes, such as Mitch in 1998 and Stan in 2005. Also, the Montagua Fault cracks beneath the surface of the mountains. Because of these natural disasters, flooding and mudslides also pose a significant danger.

MedLend has been to Guatemala 3 times. These missions are sponsored by an organization called La Familia which is based in Palo Alto, California. The missions to this country are all in Nuevo Progreso Province – at about 2,000 feet altitude in the coffee growing region of the Chiapas Mountains near the border of Mexico.

According to Dr. Henry Hamilton, MedLend founder, “70% of our patients walked from Mexico across the border into Guatemala and up to the mountains where we were located because they cannot get help in their local villages. They also cannot get help in Guatemala [from hospitals] since they are not Guatemalan citizens.”

Governments in this area recognize an official border between Guatemala & Mexico, but most MedLend patients here are from the native (Amerindian) population, which does not honor that border. “They do not see themselves as Guatemalans or Mexicans. On the social ladder, they are the poorest of the poor,”

Guatemala has provided some unforgettable moments for MedLend volunteers. For example, Dr. Hamilton remembers a “patient who came in and the previous year there was a rainstorm and her house was washed away. Her husband and her 4 children all drowned… and she was 33 years old. She was trying to rebuild her life. She’d found a new partner and wanted to make sure that she would be able to have children again. Her attitude is what really stood out… ‘hey, I got a life to live’. It was amazing that so many seemingly terrible things were happening but these patients were able to live in the present and deal with what was in front of them. It was quite refreshing. I learned a lot.”