Guatemala with the Leiers
Freelance Missions operates primarily in Guatemala, working alongside non-profit mission organizations and teams to provide healthcare to the people of Guatemala. Nearly 75% of Guatemala’s Mayan people live in extreme poverty, subsisting on an average income of less than $1 each day. Guatemala’s governmental institutions are unable to meet the medical, dental, social, and education needs of its rural, indigenous populations. Freelance Missions works with organizations and mission teams from the United States, Canada, and Europe to provide high-quality, low-cost services to bridge the gap in services and help build bright futures for the Mayan people.
The primary role of Freelance Missions is to work with and through medical organizations and teams to ensure patient safety. Freelance Missions works with surgical teams, checking all surgical equipment before the team arrives in-country, setting up operating rooms, helping the healthcare providers feel comfortable with all equipment, and consulting on the sanitization of instruments. They are present throughout the surgical process and are able to make repairs to vital, life-saving equipment as necessary.
In addition, Freelance Missions consults on the overall needs regarding the construction of new hospitals, clinics, and surgery centers. They are able to provide recommendations for design and infrastructure, electrical, plumbing, and networking, as well as research and purchase equipment for the operation of the facility.
Freelance Missions has built relationships with several healthcare organizations both in Guatemala and around the world. Through these relationships, they are able to seek outpatients who need care and refer them to an organization or teams that can best meet their healthcare needs. Because of the work of Freelance Missions, patients who would have gone untreated are able to have a new chance at a healthier life.
Joe and Karen Leier take joy in seeing how God can use them in Guatemala to serve the people there. Joe is working as an in-country BioMed technician/ NGO consultant to various medical teams that come from North America to help the poorest of Guatemala.
Joe travels to the remote hospitals where the medical teams have chosen to work and many times needs to do some drastic upgrades before the surgeries can start. His work during the week and his presence there 24 hours a day eases the medical teams' workload. Some of Joe's duties have entailed these various aspects:
- repair and maintain medical equipment from operating room lights to dental chairs to anaesthetic machines
- fabricate surgical instruments as required
- consult for surgery teams on facilities and equipment
- assist in the post-op recovery when needed
- consult in community development and projects
Karen works in reception at Hands of Hope Medical Clinic in San Rafael el Arado. This clinic serves the indigenous Mayan people that live in this village as well as those that live in the nearby towns of Santa Marta and San Jose de Yalu.
Poverty, poor housing, and sanitation are great challenges to the people in this area. Many people do not have clean drinking water and, as well, houses are often made of corn stalks. Compounding the health issue, many families sleep on the dirt floors of their homes. The clinic has drastically reduced the infant mortality rate in the area.
Since the government recently closed down the small free health clinics in Guatemala, this is a crucial part of health care in the area. The clinic serves about four thousand people in the area and provides food packages to children suffering from malnutrition and elderly widows. Karen also translates for and assists visiting dental teams that come to the clinic. Karen's position in the clinic is a volunteer one but she is greatly rewarded by the satisfaction in serving the people in these mountain villages and praying with them and sharing the word of God.
As a service to children, youth, and adults in the neighbourhood, Karen and her family provide a free "Internet Cafe" in their home with a designated computer and internet access to do research for homework. There are very few libraries in Guatemala and most people do not have books or encyclopedias in their houses, let alone access to computers. The Internet Cafe is open almost every day and users also have use of the printer for their work. Karen is always there to give assistance in learning how to use a computer or researching a topic. Karen also teaches English as a second language class in her home once a week for the neighbourhood children.