A couple of weeks ago, my sister, Patrice, who works in the drama and dance department at Stanford University, sent me a series of articles about Stanford physician Paul Wise, who has been going to rural Guatemala for the past thirty years to deliver healthcare to families in dire need, ever since he first visited in 1970 and “fell in love with the place and its people.” On his most recent trip this summer, Dr. Wise was accompanied by a team of Stanford medical students and undergraduates. The articles were written by Adam Gorlick, a Stanford News Service writer.
The group’s work was centered in the area surrounding San Lucas Tolimán, on the southeastern shore of Lake Atitlán. (Tolimán is the name of the volcano that sits on the edge of town.) Gorlick began the series by describing the havoc wreaked on San Lucas by torrential rainfall, including Tropical Storm Agatha in late May. The description rings all-too-familiar to anyone who has traveled in-country during rainy season, when flood waters create landslides, destroy homes, and render roads nearly impassable. Gorlick went on to note the poverty endemic in a country “wracked by decades of civil war, political corruption and the violence of a growing drug trade.” The majority of residents in San Lucas are farm workers who earn less than $1,000 U.S. per year. (more…)