East Bay Sanctuary Covenant also sponsors the Guatemala Clinic.
In April of 2008, a small group of people, including two EBSC volunteers and several members of St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, journeyed to the central highlands of Guatemala. Our destination was the tiny Quiché Maya village of Xecaguic. Our purpose: To meet the people of Xecaguic, and to inaugurate a clinic building which was constructed there using local labor and talent, and paid for by money raised by EBSC, St. John’s and other churches, and generous donors.
Xecaguic is a village of perhaps 600-700 people, one of many small villages nestled in the mountains around the town of Chicaman. The people live by growing crops, and by hiring themselves out as laborers in Chicaman. Fairly recently, the village was able to install a water system so that most of the families have access to water in their homes. Though there is a primary school in the village, not all of the children attend, as they are needed to work in the fields and help at home. No one in the village has gone beyond a primary school education, though there is a secondary school in nearby Chicaman. There is a Catholic church in the village and several evangelical churches, but no shops or other services.
Two former residents of the area, Diego and Francisco Tum, now live in Oakland and are clients and friends of EBSC. They still have many family members in Xecaguic and were concerned about the lack of access to medical care. Because of the racism and prejudice against indigenous people that is common in Guatemala, the inhabitants of Xecaguic are not fairly treated in the government-run medical clinic in Chicaman The Tums began a fund-raising project, supported by EBSC and St. John’s which resulted in the construction of the building we were traveling to see.
Xecaguic is in a beautiful area, surrounded by mountains, with lush views all around. The people are warm and friendly, and were eager to meet the visiting Americans. They treated us to an all-day ceremony and fiesta to introduce us to everyone and to inaugurate the building. The setting of the clinic building couldn’t be better. It’s centrally located in a large open space across from the church. It’s well-built and attractive, with four rooms, arched windows, and indoor plumbing. The clinic is one of the only buildings in the village with an indoor toilet, sink, and shower! It is an empty building, waiting to become a clinic for this needy and deserving population. The local committee in charge of the clinic is hiring a nurse and finding out how to affordably buy reliable medicines. The nurse would not only serve the community medically, but also mount an educational program to inform residents how better to manage their own health.
While there, we committed to paying a nurse’s salary and helping to stock the clinic with medicines, at least to get it started. Our group also committed to three scholarships for local children, hoping that by paying school fees and expenses, we could encourage some of the young population to continue their education. Our goal would be to have a young resident of Xecaguic graduate from secondary school, go on to nursing school, and be able to return and eventually work in his or her own village clinic!
With a tax-deductible donation, you will help ensure the operation of a medical clinic for the people of Xecaguic. Thank you for your support!
Make checks payable to EBSC (write in memo “Guatemala Clinic”) and send to:
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, P.O. Box 4670, Berkeley, CA 94704