Renton Rotarians bring health care to Belize
February 18, 2010 · 3:52 PM
In Belize, he helped set up for the procedures done by the dentists on the team. Dozens of teeth were cleaned or pulled and dozens of cavities were filled, Kyes said.
The broader medical team examined about 1,400 patients and screened students at two schools and performed various surgeries.
“It was almost like a MASH unit,” Kyes said, referring to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital made famous in the TV show “M*A*S*H.”
Kyes had a chance to visit outlying villages, too.
The Belize trip was organized by The Rev. Peter Kalunian, a Renton Rotarian and Anglican priest. Rotarians pay their own way.
In all about $20,000 in medicines, equipment and supplies were donated to the South Regional Hospital. Besides the Renton Rotary, local donors included Valley Medical Center and church groups such as St. George Episcopal Church in Maple Valley.
The group also is building a multi-purpose building and a church. The fourth Renton Rotarian on the trip – Norm Abrahamson – worked the construction side of the mission.
This is the 11th trip to Belize, partly because it’s an English-speaking country, Kalunian said. Belize, a country of about 308,000 people, has its challenges. The unemployment rate is high and about 40 percent of the population lives in poverty, Kalunian said.
But Belize is known for its civility and relative lack of major crime, he said.
Dangriga is the least-served area medically in Belize, he said.
The 20 members of the medical team included specialists and internists, mostly from the Northwest. Without the clinics, many Belizeans would go without medical care, he said. And, they seem to prefer American doctors.
While the care was relatively routine, the team also saved lives.
In one case, a girl, maybe 10 or 11, was found through routine testing to have an extremely high blood-sugar level. Her life was at risk. But she’s alive because of the insulin she received.
After the trip, Kalunian sent out an e-mail, thanking the participants. In one line he wrote:
“It’s a small yet a large world that we live in ... to be in a developing country one day and facing traffic the next day. I am told that we are lucky to live in American but sometimes I wonder about the old argument who is better off.
“We have more material things but money can’t buy the smile on the people’s faces in Dangriga.”