RHS Student Accompanies Medical Team to Guatemala

In early January, one Redmond High School student was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to accompany a team of medical professionals to rural Guatemala.  Mayra Morales, a senior at RHS, accompanied a team of physicians, optometrists and surgeons on a nine day trip to the rural village of Nuevo Progresso, Guatemala.

The Hospital De La Familia Foundation is a charitable foundation based out of San Francisco. Every other year, it sends a Bend medical team to its hospital in Guatemala.  The team stays at the hospital and offers their medical services.  Due to the rural nature of the community, there are not many medical specialists who can perform surgeries and treatments for the citizens there.  So many people wait for this opportunity to have a necessary surgery or procedure.

The team approached Redmond High School seeking a bilingual student who could accompany the team and serve as an interpreter during their trip.  Mayra happens to be bilingual and has been interested in pursuing a career in medicine for quite some time.  She jumped at the opportunity to participate and immediately began fundraising to pay for her trip.  Mayra was responsible for fundraising $1,200 to help cover her airfare and other fees for the trip.  Her ASPIRE mentor, Christine Herrick, encouraged her and helped her begin fundraising efforts.  Mayra and her mother made homemade tamales and sold them to the staff at RHS.

Mayra was one of two high school students accompanying the medical team.  During the trip, she mainly worked with the ophthalmologist in the eye clinic.  She was also able to observe surgical procedures in the operating room.

“Every morning people were lined up to get medical help,” shared Mayra.  “The first day we arrived people began hugging us and thanking us for coming to their community.”

Mayra shares that she is so thankful for this opportunity to help people in need.  She says that working in the eye clinic was particularly impactful.

“I remember interpreting for a patient who had cataracts.  We told him that he was eligible for surgery the next day, Mayra said.  “Even though many patients had to travel long distances to come to the hospital, they were so thankful.  It was awesome seeing how amazed the patients were once surgery was completed and they could see. This was my favorite experience of the trip because I know their lives are changed.”

Mayra has been accepted to Oregon Institute of Technology but she says now that she realizes there are so many career options in the medical field, it is a bit confusing, in a good way.

“I have been interested in studying radiology or pediatric medicine.  After this trip I realized I might want to study ophthalmology,” she says.  “I just feel really lucky and blessed to go.  It was an awesome opportunity.”

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You can learn a little more about this trip from this video news story produced by KTVZ News Channel 21 – http://www.ktvz.com/news/bend-medical-team-heading-to-guatemala/30545694.

Many thanks to the team at Redmond High School for supporting Mayra through this opportunity. We wish Mayra the best of luck in her college career and thank her for her service to the people of Nuevo Progresso!