La Antigua, Guatemala
Health for Humanity: Overview
Health for Humanity Service Society is a registered not-for-profit, charitable organization of volunteer
healthcare professionals and support staff. Our mission is to improve the health status of communities
in the developing world where there is limited access to healthcare. To that end, H4H has supported
surgical missions to Guatemala and the Philippines, as well as primary care missions and health
promotion projects in Guatemala. Every year, the volunteers of Health for Humanity
organize a multidisciplinary team of volunteer healthcare professionals to provide health
● collect medical equipment and supplies
● collect funds for patient and medical expenses
● collect funds to support partner volunteer organizations
● participate in fundraising for health promotion projects
All funds raised are used to cover medical/surgical expenditures, medical equipment, medications,
supplies and direct project costs. We have no paid staff and minimal administrative costs. All our
volunteers pay their own travel expenses (e.g. airfare, accommodation, food). In order to achieve our
goals, H4H works specifically with a number of partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in
Associacion Obras Sociales Del Santo Hermano Pedro and its Hospital in La Antigua
Guatemala – this hospital provides diagnostics, primary care, surgical services and
residential care for disabled patients of all ages.
Partners for Surgery – a Guatemalan-based NGO that supports indigenous, rural Mayan
Faith in Practice – a US-based NGO that has been instrumental in setting up the operating
room at the Obras. They also oversee “Casa de Fe”, a facility in Antigua that provides
convalescence/accommodation to patients and families.
Ecofiltro One- a Guatemalan socially conscious business which has as its goal to provide
safe water to rural schoolchildren and “water for life” to Guatemalan families.
The Rotary Club of West Vancouver Sunrise- Our major partner in the fundraising efforts
which supports all of our projects.
In 1996, Poco a Poco (based in Vancouver Island) sent the first Canadian surgical team to Antigua to
volunteer at the Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedro Hospital. They continued to send teams annually
until 2001, after which they decided to concentrate on other volunteer projects in Guatemala. In
December 2001, a group of healthcare volunteers previously with Poco a Poco, formed a new
Canadian organization called Health for Humanity Service Society (H4H).
Health for Humanity’s first surgical team worked in Antigua, Guatemala, for two weeks in November
2002. The team successfully performed a total of 141 plastic, gynecological and general surgeries
during that visit. Since then, H4H has completed another 15 successful missions in Guatemala. In
addition to surgery, H4H has supported vaccination initiatives at the Obras, Partner for Surgery
education and nutrition programs for rural Mayan communities, and other health promotion projects
with Guatemalan-based community organizations. Since 2007, H4H has also completed three
surgical missions to the Philippines. H4H now also supports primary healthcare missions to rural
areas of Guatemala, and has embarked on a safe water in schools project.
Why We Volunteer in Guatemala
Guatemala is a developing country in Central America. Fifty-two percent of Guatemala's 14 million
people are Ladino (of mixed Amerindian-Spanish extraction), and 48% are indigenous Maya. Since
the Spanish Conquest, the Mayan people have been progressively deprived of their lands and have
suffered extreme marginalization and discrimination. The vast majority continue to live in remote
communities without access to drinking water, electricity, schools or health services. The recent years
of civil unrest have intensified these problems. Although Guatemala's 36-year civil war officially
ended in 1996, Guatemala remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America. A recent UN report
shows 55% of the overall population live below the poverty line, while 93% of the indigenous
population live in poverty or extreme poverty (less than one dollar US per day). Contributing factors to
the ongoing poverty include a significant income disparity between the rich and the poor (one of the
highest in the world), high crime rates, illiteracy and inaccessible education and healthcare services.
The Mayan population of Guatemala has the highest malnutrition and mortality rates not only in the
country, but in the Americas as a whole.
In the 1996 Peace Accord, the Government promised a program of institutional modernization;
however, access to social services, education and healthcare remains extremely limited, particularly
in the rural areas. It is estimated that there are 21,000 communities in different regions of Guatemala
that do not have access to Department of Health services (20% of the population). Only 8% of the
indigenous population has access to regular healthcare.
The following statistics from the Pan American Health Organization and UNICEF illustrate the
problems faced in Guatemala:
per capital GNP in $US
Income ratio – top 20% vs. bottom 40%
per capital National Health spending
Physicians per 10,000 population
Births attended by trained personnel
Infant Mortality per 1,000 live births
Maternal Mortality per 100,000
The H4H surgical missions have significant social and economic impact on the lives of patients and
their families. Individuals who have been marginalized from their family and community, or excluded
from schooling or employment as a result of disease, injury or congenital problems, have their lives
changed for the better. When considering the cumulative efforts of all volunteer teams which work at
the Obras Hospital, we make a significant contribution to the specialist health services offered in
Guatemala. Interestingly, this volunteer-based hospital is ranked fourth amongst all hospitals in
Guatemala for the number of surgeries performed annually. In addition, H4H endeavors to empower
the local healthcare workers and infrastructure through the provision of training, medical equipment,
Who are our patients?
Many of our smallest patients come for repairs of congenital cleft pathologies, while others present for
repair of burns related functional problems. Our Guatemalan affiliated NGO, “Partners for Surgery”
(PFS) make first contact with these patients in rural settings. The cleft children are in mortal danger
because they become nutritionally deficient and suffer from punishing stigmatization in their
communities. Most of these burns result from falls into domestic open cooking fires. These young
patients travel with their parents by foot or by bus for many hours in the hope that groups such as
H4H can provide them with salvation and a new chance at a more normal life.
The story of Pablo Moran Chicaj:
Pablo was born with a cleft lip and palate in June 2013 in Tiritibol, Chicaman Quiche. He is the
youngest of 7 children, born to Alvina (38 yrs old) and Eulalio (55 yrs.) Alvina has a club foot and
stays at home with the children. Eulalio works in the fields growing corn and earns about $38/mo. At
the age of three months Pablo was first screened by one of PFS’s Mobile Medical Missions, found to
be severely malnourished and for more than a year he was part of their nutrition program. This day is
viewed as the beginning of the “Milagro para mi hijo”…a “Miracle for my son”. After many setbacks,
Pablo was deemed to be nutritionally sound and travelled many hours with his father to Antigua,
where the H4H surgical team corrected the cleft lip in November 2014. He is waiting to have his
palate fixed, possibly in November 2015. Many of the H4H volunteer physicians have remarked on
the vast improvement in the nutritional state of these young patients who have had the benefits of the
nutrition program instituted by Partners for Surgery. In Spanish, Eulalio expressed his thanks with
“You not only helped my son but also my wife who is now happy and my other children, who are
proud of their brother. Thank you for all your help and may God bless you… Gracias Companeros
por toda su ayuda, que Dios se los pague”
Our adult patients, identified by “Partners for Surgery” or by the Obras Hospital make the often difficult
decision to seek Gynecological, General or Urological surgical services to alleviate such conditions as
inguinal, umbilical or incisional hernias, gallstones or uterine growths or pelvic floor laxity, or enlarged
prostates. These conditions prevent them from being productive in their villages, providing for their
families and, generally, having a decent quality of life.
For many of our patients, we are not exaggerating when we label our surgeries as “life changing” i.e.
life changing for the individuals, their families and their villages.
Health for Humanity Structure
Board: Elected by H4H members for two year terms at the Annual General Meeting held every
Board Committees: Led by Board members with H4H volunteers and includes: Surgical Missions,
Primary Care & Public Health, Fund Development, Promotions & Public Relations, Membership &
Members/Volunteers: People who have paid the annual membership fee of $25.00 and remain in
Medical & Team Leaders: Appointed by the Board Surgical Missions Ctte
Mission-Specific Organizing Committee: Selected & chaired by the Medical & Team Leaders
November 2016 Guatemala Mission Organizing Committee
Dr. Joe Delvicario
Gloria Garraway RN
Cheryl Satgunam RN
Area Leads (Questions? Contact the Area Lead or Team Leader):
Physicians & Team Leader: Dr. Joe Delvicario
Anesthesia Lead: Dr. Bob Purdy and Dr. Jim Prentice
OR Nurses Leads: Cheryl Satgunam (Week #1 & 2), Monica Froh (Week #3)
PAR Nurse Lead: Gloria Garraway ( Weeks 1-3)
In Country Coordinator: Colleen Fleury (Weeks 1-3)
Team Doctor: Dr. Roberta Pauls (week #1..Weeks 2&3 TBA)
Mission November 2016 Schedule
● A selected few team members will be carrying one bin of teaml supplies as their checked
● The rest of the team may pack personal items and/or gifts.
● Bring your passport & wear your team shirt & name tag!
● Note: No meals are offered on any of the flights
There is only one group of 17 volunteers travelling at an H4H Group rate. The rest are
travelling as “independent travellers”.
Friday Nov 4:
❖ UA2023..leaves YVR 06:15. Please meet in front of UA and check in no later than 4:15 AM
UA route is via Houston..check your gate to board for Guatemala.
❖ UA1902..leaves Houston at 1945
This group will NOT be assigned any mission related supplies and customs entry into Guatemala
should be routine (hopefully)
Once customs are cleared in Guatemala City, we have a 45 minute bus ride to Antigua.. There will be
pizza and refreshments on arrival at La Quinta de las Flores.
We have all 76 members on our radar to be picked up from the airport in Guatemala City. Your
Airport transfer from and to Guatemala City is part of your Mission commitment, so please
stay with H4H travel arrangements.
Your emergency contacts just in case are:
1. Isela of Adventure Travel…….502-5999 3822
2. Odra Flores (OR Head Nurse)..502-4021-5178
3. Colleen Fleury(incountry coordinator)502-4259-1600 or 502-7834-0280
4. Quinta de las Flores (our hotel) ..502-7832-3721
5. Joe Delvicario 604-307-5917 (Viber or Text)
Saturday November 5
Dress Code -Team Shirt and Name Tag please!
9:30am - Welcome breakfast (cost included in fees) at La Quinta. Three breakfast
choices are offered. Breakfast orders will be taken in advance by email!
o 10:30am – Orientation & Area meetings at La Quinta…
o 12:30pm – Meet at Obras Hospital for Team Group Photo
o 1:00pm - Free time (Antigua Walking Tour-check out
www.adventuretravelguatemala.com can pre-arrange)
o 6:30pm – Welcome Team Dinner (cost included in fees) Location TBA . Meet at La
Quinta front entrance.(17:45)
Note: always check the hospital notice board and La Quinta blackboard for notes re:
available tours -in and outside of Antigua, dinner options & other extra-curricular
Sunday November 06 TRIAGE DAY!!
Dress Code - Team Shirt and Name Tag please!
7:00am sharp! - breakfast at the hospital with Welcome & Briefing from Obras Hosp
Nursing Director, Odra Flores
8:00am–until finished in late PM -TRIAGE & UNPACKING –a long,busy day!
‘Day to Day’ Weekdays Nov 7 to Nov 27
Scrubs available at hospital. Wear name tags, please!
Breakfast 7:00am at Hospital
Patient in room at 7:30am with ‘Cut Time’ by 7:45am
Last patient out of OR at approx 4:00pm.
Each week the following sequence will be repeated for new arrivals:
● arrival/pizza & refreshments Friday evenings (not the 27th)
● Welcome breakfast and orientation Saturday mornings (9:30am)
● Welcome Dinner Saturday evening (6:45pm)
● Farewell dinners: Timings and Venues TBA..stay tuned.
Please be aware of your departure times and check with Esther for transfer from Antigua to
Airport in Guatemala City with Adventure Travel.
To support the hospital staff to complete OR cleaning and prepare for the next day,
we aim to complete our operating schedule by 4:00 PM . and the recovery room by
In order to accomplish this, please report to your area of duty on time each day to
help us keep on schedule.
Please wear your name-tags in the hospital.
Please bring and wear OR designated shoes when working, and not shoes that you
will be wearing outside the hospital. You may leave those shoes in the OR locker
room area for the mission.
OR scrubs and caps (disposable and cloth) are available for use. If you wish to bring
your own OR hat, please feel free to do so.
When working, the Obras hospital requests that you not bring drinks into the OR
Use your hand sanitizer and use it OFTEN!!
Each service group will have an on-call rota. Please adhere to the same standards
of conduct while on call as you do at home!
Report Needle stick injuries to Team Leader, Mission Doctor or your area lead
Hospital de L’Associacion Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro
The Operating Suite
We have 5 operating rooms to utilize.
o Dr. Nelson Mayen, Chief of Surgical Services
o Odra Flores, RN, Surgical Services Director
ANTIGUA COFFEE READY TO HARVEST
Anabela Morales, Hospital Administrative Secretary
OR Staff includes Nico, Maria, Gregorio, Marvin, Luis et al ..
Ward Staff & Physicians
Please respect that we are visitors in their country and place of work. Some of the Hospital
staff speaks conversational English. Please use the team interpreters to assist you with
patient interactions as needed.
The history of Hermano Pedro and the hospital is on our H4H website.
La Quinta de las Flores
The Quinta has 8 hotel-style double rooms with en suite and 5 casitas (town houses). The casitas
have two large bedrooms on the upper floor, one with a queen bed and cot, and the other with two
single beds and a sleeping loft. On the ground floor there is a large sunken living room with a fireplace
and a kitchen/dining area. We ask that those in the casitas welcome those in the rooms to share the
cooking facilities. We will also have casual get-togethers in the casitas or in the garden living room.
All the hotel rooms and casitas have phones. Internet access is available in the main areas and the
computer room in the corridor opposite the office.
Hotel Quinta de las Flores contact information:
Phone: 011 502 7832 3721
011 502 7832 3726
ROOMING PLANS: See Separate Publication
Packing and Safety Tips
Valid passport. No visa is required for Canadian Citizens. Non-Canadian passport holders
should check visa requirements.
Valid travel insurance that includes trip cancellation and medical evacuation.
Bring several photocopies of your passport and birth certificate and pack them in different
❖ Mission related supplies will only be carried by a few of the mission volunteers. You will be
contacted and instructions will be provided.
❖ Most team members will be travelling independently. Please cheque with your carrier for
Inexpensive laundry facilities are available at the hotel and/or a nearby vendor, Spring Laundry,
frequently used by H4H teams.
A fleece jacket is recommended for the cooler evenings and early mornings (Antigua is at
5,000 feet). Layers work well!
Flashlight/ headlight and batteries
Comfortable walking shoes (we walk everywhere).
Hat and sunglasses, sunscreen, spare contact lenses/glasses, medical alert bracelet.
Insect repellent if travelling outside Antigua
Money belt or neck pouch to carry your money/credit cards.
Spanish dictionary or phrase book is helpful
Guidebook if you plan to travel.
Small hair dryer if needed (or arrange to share)
Personal sized hand sanitizer (provided by H4H)
Bring your smart phones especially if they are unlocked
Money in Guatemala
The Guatemalan currency is the Quetzal. Current exchange rate is approximately: 5.69
Quetzals = 1 Canadian Dollar,
7.47 Quetzals = 1 US Dollar (October 1/16 exchange rate)
Best currency exchange is in Guatemala (US to Quetzals). Cash should be US dollars. We
suggest $20/$50/$100 bills, printed after 2002 and in good condition to ensure bank
The use of Travelers’ Cheques is not recommended.
Most items, such as sightseeing trips, are quoted in US dollars.
Bank machines give Quetzals for debit/credit cards; though the occasional ATM may not
work, you will find one that does.
Visa and M/C are accepted in many places but items purchased with a credit card may be
subject to a 10% government tax.
DO NOT DRINK TAP WATER! Although the water in Antigua is treated, there is always the chance
that small earth tremors may have damaged the pipes and the water could be contaminated. Bottled
water is available everywhere and is supplied for you at both the hotel and the hospital.
Wash your hands frequently! Use Hand Sanitizer!!
Read and Heed H4H Recommended Health Guidelines.
Brush teeth with bottled water
Either peel raw fruit and vegetables, or wash with bottled water.
Check that salads and dishes with raw vegetables have been washed in bottled water.
Check that ice cubes have been made from bottled water.
Check that dairy products have been pasteurized.
Avoid food from roadside and market stands and street vendors.
Do not eat raw meat or raw seafood.
Take precautions against mosquitoes 24/7..Use DEET
Money- Jewellery- Valuables
Carry only the money you will need and be discreet. Carry some small bills loose in a pocket
and larger bills in your money belt/neck pouch.
Leave all valuables, including jewellery and expensive designer clothing at home.
Safety around Antigua
As ever, we recommend care and vigilance.
● Use your ‘street smarts’, avoid dressing like a tourist.
● When out in the evenings walk with at least one other person
● Stay in lighted areas
● Keep in mind that the later it is at night, the more dangerous it will be. USE A FLASHLIGHT.
● Check at the main tourism office for current conditions. Be cautious with some tourist spots.
Last report is that the viewing spot at the “cross on the hill” has its own security guard.
● Avoid going alone to monuments, ruins, and isolated places
● If you are taking a taxi in Antigua, it should be yellow with numbers printed on the side
(approved by the government). Arrange for Quinta staff to procure a taxi when needed.
● You are advised NOT to travel on any of the “Tuk-Tuks” unless arranged by la Quinta staff.
Don’t use the “chicken busses” ever!
● In the unlikely event that you are involved in a robbery, calmly hand over your valuables. DO
You are a representative
As a member of this team you will be representing H4H and Canada. Help us keep our good
reputation by being caring, respectful, and polite. We are guests and thus need to treat our hosts with
Flexibility and open-mindedness
One of the most important things to remember is to go with a flexible attitude and an open mind. The
pace in Guatemala is more relaxed than at home. Be patient, relax a little and enjoy the difference.
Most of the Guatemalans you will meet at the hospital are more conservative in dress than we are
used to. Please respect this when choosing your own attire. Scrubs are provided in the hospital but
please do not wear them outside the operating room. You must have shoes for OR use only.
The Mayan People
Having had a long history of oppression and coming from isolated areas, the Mayan patients are wary
of strangers; please take extra care to gain their confidence.
Guatemalans in general
In Guatemala, when meeting or passing someone in the street or at work, a friendly greeting is
customary eg. "Buenos Dias" (Good Morning), "Buenas Tardes" (Good Afternoon) or "Buenas
Noches" (Good Evening).
Guatemalans often understand more English than they speak. This is
particularly true in the Obras Hospital. Please remember this when talking in their presence.
On the street…Please ask permission before taking pictures of an individual. They may agree and
expect payment in exchange for the photo eg. 1 to 2 Quetzals
In the hospital…taking of photos is not permitted unless approved by Team Leaders. Informed
consent of patients and staff is required.
Handing out gifts
It is not advisable to give candy, gifts, or money to the Guatemalan children. We will bring gift items
for the patients and hospital staff.
You will be approached by many vendors. If you are not interested in purchasing, just say a firm "No,
Gracias" and keep walking. Sometimes you may have to repeat this a few times. If you stop, be
prepared to negotiate and buy something, or be courteous in your refusal. Bargaining is customary
but please be respectful, and remember that you are often haggling over just a few cents!
Pan-handlers on the street
Giving money is an individual decision; -keep some change handy to save searching for it while on
Please see our website or consult one of the many travel guidebooks for more information
about Antigua and its history. Listed below are a few suggestions for restaurants and stores
but there are many more!
Restaurants in Antigua
Angie, Angie – hip Argentinean café, includes photo gallery & live entertainment some
evenings (#111A Primera Avenida Sur Antigua)
La Antigua Vineria –opposite the Hotel Antigua. 5Ave. Sur #34A – Good Italian pastas, pizzas
Cafe Sky – best view of Antigua from 2 floor outdoor bar. Good quesadillas and soups for
after work gatherings (1 Avenida Sur #15)
Dona Luisa – breakfast & lunch spot, great bakery - try the banana or chocolate bread (4a Calle
Oriente #12 – few blocks east of Central Park)
Café Condesa –West side of the main square – excellent for breakfast or lunch, now serves
dinner – a favorite of H4H team members.
Café Mediterraneo – small, quiet, family-run restaurant, good pastas and very close to the
hospital (6a Calle Poniente #6A)
Casa Santa Domingo* upscale restaurant/hotel set in an old monastery. Well worth a visit just
to have a tour around this historic site with its own hand-made candle and chocolate shops.
La Fonda del la Calle Real – off main square, good typical Guatemalan food, popular with the
Fusion– casual fusion food with live piano (1 Calle Poniente #9)
Hector’s –popular & tiny/ intimate- great food (1 Calle Poniente #9A)
Meson Panza Verde* -upscale, nice atmosphere, good food. Check out the live Latin/Cuban
music on Thursday evenings
Las Palmas –good food, cozy with live Latin music(6 Ave & 4 Calle)
Queso y Vino – good Italian and pizzas from an outdoor oven (5ta Avenida Norte/Sur #15) –
turn right around the corner N. of the arches.
Rainbow Cafe & Reading Room - good food, good value, offers live & local entertainment and
often interesting discussions (7 Avenida Sur #8)
The Refuge Coffee Bar – v. good place to grab a great cup of coffee
(7 Avenue North, 18A)
El Tenedor del Cerro – great setting situated on the hill with regular, free carriage shuttle from
Santo Domingo Hotel front door; best to go in the daytime or late pm for the views –dress
warmly. Good casual dining.
La Vivero de la Escalonia –good food -breakfast or lunch is a treat in a plant nursery’s leafy
garden setting. 5a.Avenida Sur final #36C
Welton* -v. upscale restaurant lovely setting and ambiance, international cuisine (4a Calle
*Reservations highly recommended
El Supermercado (La Bogadona) – on the right of the furthest block west on 5a Calle Poniente,
just before it ends at the junction with Almeda (or Calzada) de Santa Lucia. Supermarket with
pretty much all you will need for food/beer and wine but you will have to search around.
Deliciosa – upstairs at 3a Calle Poniente No 2. A delicatessen and grocery store. It is much
smaller, better organized and has a better wine selection than the Supermercado.
Supertienda “Lucky” – 5a Calle Poniente No. 10 – if you have forgotten to bring any personal
items this store is likely to have it. They have items such as wine bottle openers, hair dryers
Women’s Cooperative – on 5 Avenida Norte just past the Iconic arch –many local crafts for a
fixed price if you don’t like haggling.
El Mercado – main market with a special Artisan market on the side
Finca Columbia – just outside Antigua, a small family-owned operation (Margarita Asensio –
firstname.lastname@example.org or 7831-5067)
Silver Jewelry Shop – near the corner behind the hospital (guard at the door). Custom orders
available plus a 10% discount on everything for hospital volunteers.
Artesanias Xejavi – lovely artisan products, mostly woven and jewelry items made by
Indigenous Guatemalan women (3 Calle Poniente #3)
There are many more shops in Antigua often hidden in courtyards so check inside if the gates
Adventure Travel Centre – http://www.adventravelguatemala.com/index.html
2da. Ave. Sur #23-A, Antigua, Guatemala
Email: Isela at email@example.com Phone: (011) 599-938-22
Contact them if you wish to arrange weekend trips or tours eg. to Lago Atitlan, the Chichicastenango
market town, Volcano Picaya, or Tikal.
Note: for trips to Tikal, we advise contacting Isela at Adventure Travel before we depart from YVR to
secure in-country flight travel which could be difficult at the last minute.
There is limited internet access at the hospital and 24 hrs. at the hotel.
Spanish Language Schools
Academia de Espanol Guatemala – 7a Calle Oriente No 15 (close to the hospital). Used in previous
years by team members but there are many others
Your family and friends can follow our progress in Guatemala
by checking our website www.h4h.ca and Facebook page
Updates will be posted every 2-3 days
Health for Humanity Service Society
is a CCRA Registered Canadian Charity
Registration Number #861946333RR0001
Tax receipts are issued for charitable donations
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe, Clean Water with an ECOFILTRO