For the fourth consecutive year, AMN Healthcare — Staff Care's parent company and the nation's leader and innovator in healthcare workforce solutions and staffing services — is sending volunteers along with HELPS International's Guatemala missions.
HELPS International is a non-profit organization created to "provide enduring programs of practical, social and spiritual value to the people in the developing world through a system of partnership and mutual responsibility," in HELPS' own words. "HELPS International started its programs in Guatemala, where it is headquartered, in 1984. Today, HELPS has ONIL stoves in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Haiti."
Known as Team Esperanza, HELPS International's Guatemala mission left for Huehuetanango, Guatemala in August, comprised of a team of volunteer healthcare professionals to administer "surgical, dental, obstetric, pediatric and other types of care to residents of Guatemala's rural highlands," AMN representatives announced. "For many people, treatment by Team Esperanza is the only medical care they ever receive."
"HELPS International does absolutely incredible work helping the people of Guatemala: Team Esperanza's weeklong mission will improve the lives of more than a thousand people in need," said Susan Salka, President and CEO of AMN Healthcare. "The entire AMN team nationwide is very proud to make this mission the centerpiece of our global corporate social responsibility." Follow Susan on Twitter here.
Guatemala Mission 'a Special and Important Duty'
According to AMN representatives, the company is sending "both medical and community development volunteers." Among them is Caleb Stewart, an account associate who recently called his HELPS International involvement the "adventure of a lifetime."
"I’m here as a member of one of the stove teams," Caleb writes at the AMN Healthcare blog. "Last night, we were shown how to build a stove, and we also got to help with some of the logistics of getting the hospital and clinic ready to start seeing patients the next day. After our first night spent at the base, we woke up early to eat breakfast, pack into a van and head out to where we would be building stoves.
Caleb explains the purpose of the stove teams. "They prevent future health problems by venting the smoke out of the house," he writes. "They are much more fuel efficient, which is very important in a country where the main fuel is wood; they save trees and they save people from hauling huge loads of wood on their backs out of the mountains to their homes. They also help prevent children from burns caused by falling into fires, which are built on the floor of homes for cooking."
"Sometimes, helping does not sound like much," Caleb adds. "But when you realize that everyone has come to help in their own specialized way, it truly becomes an amazing thing to see. Whether you are on the medical teams or the stoving teams, whether you are a physician, nurse, technician, food preparer, trouble-shooter or a stover like me, you have a special and important duty this week." Read Caleb's full story about his Guatemala mission adventures here.
'A Humbling Experience'
One of the clinicians taking part in AMN and HELPS' Guatemala mission is Dr. Shelina Manji, a pediatrician who also specializes in pediatric speech language pathology and working with children with special needs.
"As the lone pediatrician, I was assigned to outreach for my first day," writes Dr. Manji in her Team Esperanza update. "Together with other medical colleagues, we left for rural homesteads to see families who were unable to make the trek down to the military compound.
"One thing that struck me as I worked with these amazing families was how similar we all are as parents. I saw the obvious glow of pride on parents’ faces as preschoolers showed me how they knew their ABCs and colors. I read the concern on the faces of moms as they recounted how picky their child is at meal times and how little they eat. I saw the awe of new parents as they tenderly unwrapped their bundle of joy for the 'expert' to declare all was well.
"These families struggle against so many odds, extremely limited finances, resources and opportunities, but yet they share the same hopes, dreams, and concerns of all parents. I’m excited to go back out there tomorrow, to be able to see even more patients than I saw today. What a humbling experience to be given the opportunity to bring some relief and — most of all — hope to families who have so little.
"Thanks, AMN Healthcare!" Read Dr. Manji's full story here.
Learn more about AMN and Staff Care's efforts to improve communities here. And feel free to contact a Staff Care representative for any additional information, or advice on how to get involved!