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La Communidad – The community

Jan 14, 2016

By Laura Sumner Coon

As more people learn about the advanced team’s arrival in Oliveros, helpers pour into the schoolyard.

This day, Dona Claudia, a leader in Oliveros, joins the team to serve her community. She stands at a window of the outdoor kitchen on the ranch, a giant bottle of lemon-scented Joy at her side and a herd of curious cows gazing in from the adjacent field. Her elbows bent and head bowed, she vigorously scrubs squares of old sheets over a washboard that’s built into the sink.

“Lavadora automatica,” she quips, shaking her hips and laughing. “Automatic washer,” translates a team member to another, who joins Claudia at the sink. One by one, the sheets that will serve as exam covers for patients are handed to Cristal, 12, and Elida, 25, who hang them on the line.

Cristal is living in Guatemala City this year with her brothers and a sister, and attends fifth grade. When the girls are asked to spell their names, Elida turns to Cristal for help. She has not had much schooling.

The day is hot, 93, and chores are done slowly to cope with the heat. When all is done, the team cools off in the pool for a swim.

Later in the evening, they visit Nery’s, where about a dozen children gather. They are quick with an “hola” and each team member’s names, showing that they remember each day.

Allison Hardin, a physician’s assistant who has made the trip multiple times, plops her backpack on the small table. Dozens of small eyes peer over the edge. She pulls out a Jenga game and quickly describes the rules. Steady hands and giggles follow, as the children take a turn. After a couple rounds, they await something else.

One points to Jeannine Desautels and Allison translates: “He wants you to do magic tricks.” A deck of cards appears from the depths of the backpack, and immediately the children shift their focus to the cards. Applause follows the tricks.

The team returns to the ranch, eagerly awaiting the rest of the team.

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