Thursday, August 9, 2007

Nebaj - Long Story!

Well, some of you have heard of our recent situation and some have not, so I will attempt to fill everyone in.

Since we have the desire of working long term in Guatemala we have begun the process of applying for a permanent Medical license for Lisa. We submitted our application in May of 2007 with the plan to take and exam in hopes that she would pass and the license would be granted. In Guatemala, there are 2 options for a foreigner to be licensed, so one option is the exam and the other option is the 1 year of service with the government health system which is a social healthcare system. (You probably already know where this is going now).

Well, we came back from the US on 7/30 and went to check on the status of the application on 7/31 to see when the test would be scheduled. We had heard the test was difficult but Lisa wanted to give it a shot. We were surprised to hear that the test option had been denied so we want to the Directors office to get some clarification. In short, the test is an option but basically it is set up so that everyone fails, leaving the service as the only option. He indicated Lisa could take the exam and would fail and would have to reapply the following year and repay the application fee. During our conversations, the Director was courteous and professional as he was just trying to help us understand the process. He also had a letter for Lisa from the board who reviews applications that she must be in Nebaj on 08/01, the following day. We explained our situation with HTI, the clinics, etc. and he gave us a week to make a decision.

Thus, after review with HTI and the local churches we made plans to start the year of service. We know God has been working on this as so far most things have fallen into place. We were able to reschedule all but 1 clinic (which we were going to cancel anyway) with the other team who works with us - Dr. Josefina Lux and Sheri Kretzschmar, RN. The only bad part is we have to split their team to do so, but we think it will work out well as they both are very attentive to the needs of the patients.

As for us, Lisa was assigned to a town called Nebaj, which is 2.5 hours north of Chichicastenango. Although farther than we wanted, this is much better than we what we expected for Lisa’s first rotation. This first rotation is for 6 months.
This is a picture of Nebaj on the way into town. The town is surrounded by mountains.
This is a view of the central park and catholic church from the porch of our hotel room and another view looking off to the west.
Lisa has been assigned to the Area Health Department for Nebaj in a position that has not been filled for 3 or 4 months as they cannot get any physicians to move here. She will have more of an administrative role as this is their need and she has already had here residency in the US. This is good as she may not be treated as a student and may not have very many exams. It will be difficult just because of the type of position which is management and overseeing a process that has already been put into place and not sure you can make anything better in this short of a time in a health system that we yet have to understand. However, we do get the opportunity to see how it works and how we as HTI can better fit into the system. In just 2 days we have a much better understanding than we ever did. This area has around 20-30 health clinics staffed by promoters, nurses or residents who are serving their time. Thus, she will travel around with some others from the office and maybe Kemmel will get to tag along some as well.
Here is a couple of pictures of Lisa on her first day at work. That is our little Suzuki we purchased from Gene Luna - Thanks Gene it works great for running around - you can park anywhere!

Lisa is on her first such journey today – She and her now – co-workers left this morning a 3:30am to go to an area about 3-5 hours away. They had to leave early as at a certain point they close the road for construction and you have to pass it early. So they passed the area where they close the road and then they were met by a mud slide which eventually got clear out. Lisa called a few minutes ago and she is on the way back to Nebaj now.

In the past the road to Nebaj was not paved, but as of 2 years or so it is so the once 6-8 hour drive from Chichi is now only 2.5, but it is still only 120km or around 70 miles. Here you must go by time and not by distance. The town is pretty nice and we have found a hostel to stay in that says they have wireless internet. We will start staying there next week. We plan on staying in Nebaj Monday through Friday and returning to Chichi on Friday for the weekend. Kemmel will also be able to stay involved a couple of days a week in Chichi since it is not too far away. We could have been placed 8 hours away on dirt roads plus a hike, so we are happy!
Here is a picture of the view from the highway at about 7am in the morning. Breathtaking area.
The road is paved, but still has its excitement. Luckily this happened a couple of days before we were in the area.

Now that we are settled we will keep up with the blog and the stories. There is a restaurant here that has wireless internet! And it is free and they have good food. Go figure! We are in the bocacheeta (kemmelism for middle of nowhere) of Guatemala.

Thanks for checking in with us!

1 comment:

Eric Livingston said...

Kemmel and Lisa,

We're praying God will open up doors for you in Nebaj. God is good and faithful, so I'm eager to see how He will work in this situation.

We're planning to spend some time Sunday morning updating the Meadowbrook folks on this news and then we'll spend time together as a body in prayer for you both.