My name is Alice Stride. In 2010 I had the pleasure of meeting the Central Prosthetics and Orthotics group from Fresno, California. Scott, Robert, Tammy, and Scott from Fresno have been involved with the Helps International group since the beginning. When they asked me to join them on their yearly mission trip, I thought it would be great to join them once. However, little did I know it would become a yearly event for me. It is such a blessing to serve the amazing people of Guatemala. Helps International has developed a system of volunteer medical teams to address the healthcare crisis in rural areas of Latin America. Over the last 28 years, they have been providing medical missions generally spanning about 12 days per location, and now have 200+ members. Each mission’s medical team is comprised of 90-120 Helps members, including physicians, surgeons, and nurses as general practitioners and specialists teams in the eye, dental, and prosthetics. The Prosthetic team I am a part of consists of 10 specialists. Our team is able to provide very much-needed prostheses to our Guatemalan family. We are blessed and honored to have this opportunity to serve and provide prosthetic arms and legs to as many amputees as we can on each trip. The need is great, and with the generosity of our Cornerstone patients and local vendors, we are able to provide the materials and components that allow us to make these prostheses. This allows the people who come to our clinics to function independently and be productive members of their society, sometimes for the first time ever.
I would like to share a story of one young boy we met in 2010. His name is Juan and he was 18 when we first had the pleasure of meeting him. Juan was unable to use his leg and had never walked before. Because of this he was confined to his home and was forced to crawl down on the dirt floor to get around. His mother and father traveled for 4 days by foot to our clinic in Joyaba, desperately hoping to receive medical attention for their son. They had to pull Juan behind them on an old children’s Big wheel riding toy just to reach our location. Juan had developed multiple ulcers on his ankles and feet from all the years of crawling on the dirt floor. He was immediately evaluated by a team of orthopedic surgeons and our prosthetic team, and in order to save his life, bilateral below the knee amputations were performed that same day. Everybody fell in love with Juan for his courage and his unforgettable smile. Juan showed us all even in the toughest situation, a smile goes a long way. Six months later Robert, Tammy, both Scotts returned to Guatemala to provide Juan with his first prosthetic legs. The precious moment of him taking his first step keeps all of us going back each year. Later in 2011 I had the privilege of seeing Juan again to assist with his second prostheses fitting. By this time, his smile had grown to a mile wide and he was now able to start attending school. When we saw him in 2012 he was continuing with his education and doing well. Juan now also has a beautiful girlfriend and his smile has gone viral! We have been so blessed to serve the people of Guatemala and to help better their lives. It is our hope to continue going back to help as many people as possible. Alice Stride LCPO
Please visit Helps International to learn more about the great work they do!