Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Los Barrios de San Cristóbal

June 25, 2012

During this time we have not been out to the surrounding villages like the times before; our house calls are mostly in the poor barrios (neighborhoods) around the city. When we arrive the families are so grateful and not ashamed of their poverty. Some homes have non-potable water, no flush toilets, dirt floors, no refrigerator; they may have a small stove next to the bed and cardboard to insulate the home. Some do not have stoves. Despite this poverty it pleases me tremendously that we are always greeted with a smile, a small chair and, "Would you like a cafecito?".  A smile, generosity, gratitude, bendiciones cost nothing but to me yield a comfort money cannot buy.

Some of our patients do not have stoves - here are tire rims modified into grills.  This would be camping for Bruce and me but is a way of life for some here.

This lady is so grateful to us for coming to care for her foot; she had two toes amputated. Her family carries her outside and they set up the make-shift floor.

Note the plank walls and the cardboard filling in the gaps and the tin roof. Necessity forces innovation and imagination, it also promotes coping skills. People can be so resourceful!
I'm glad to know there are no serious burn injuries in the villages that Don Sergio is called upon but I do miss our 20 - 30 drives out to who knows where to see how the Maya of el campo live today.  This trip has been an eye opener because of the seriousness of uncontrolled diabetes in the poor population, it was not like this before and I was here six months ago. All our house calls since my arrival are to treat heel, toe, venous ulcers, as are most museo clinic patients are. I am not optimistic about this trend. We have only one burn patient who fortunately is well on the mend.

Free range chicks, keeping warm in the comfort of their mother's breast.

Room for one more?
Telemedicine at the Museo. This man came from visiting his 27-year-old sister who lives four hours away. She has severe arthritis and is on immunosuppressant medications and has two large ulcers on her left leg. With no access to wound care he asks for our help and Don Sergio gives his recommendations. What he doesn't know is that this may not be the 'typical' venous ulcer but something related to her autoimmune condition.

Don Sergio demonstrates how many people without clean water consume water: they take a bandana/handkerchief and put it over the mouth of the bottle to filter the obvious particles. Not quite the cleaning process we prefer.
Home of Maya women hang their corn to dry.
These photos are by no means representative of all people in this area but a sampling of what life is like for the poor in the barrios for people living on the fringe. We do have patients with nice homes, however unless they have a filter (like Bela), all the faucet water is non-potable. Also, diabetes is an equal-opportunity disease so rich, middle-class and poor are affected. Despite these photos, Mexico, Chiapas, and the San Cristóbal region have so much to offer any visitor. The natural beauty and aesthetics of the Mexican and Mayan culture is a sight for sore eyes.

View from patient's home.

Posted by P.Ferrer.

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