Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Category: Allergy Pearls

Concise Mission Statement:

On July 15 through 25, 1996 twenty-four crazy Cajuns and friends flew from Lafayette, Louisiana, Wyoming and the state of Washington to a remote village called Chacsinkin in the Yucatan. The group included four doctors, two dentists, five nurses, a premed student and several family members. Together, we were able to treat over a thousand patients in four remote villages. Our dentists extracted over 150 abscessed teeth. All of our mission team feel blessed by our experience. We're already reorganizing and planning for our return in 1997.

Longer Narrative Report:

The CCC mission trip came together in a matter of three months before our departure from New Orleans, July 15, 1996. The fact that twenty-two individuals who hardly knew each other came together to work for poor Mayans in a remote area of the Yucatan seems like a small miracle to me. Actually, the entire mission experience has seemed like an ongoing miracle blessed by the Holy Spirit and a unified faith of people who wanted to help the needy any way they could. Our group included four doctors, two dentists, five nurses and several family members who volunteered their help any way they could. Our first goal was to obtain as many medicines as we could so that we could help Fr. Juan in Chacsinkin with his long term medical mission goals. He is a mission priest stationed in Chacsinkin Mexico for about five to seven years. His personal mission is to the Mayan to empower them and help them upgrade themselves. With his lead we sent out letters to pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, Rotary Clubs and friends and managed to acquire close to $20,000 worth of sundry medicines during that three month period. We packed the medicines in many suitcases and bags and traveled on separate flights to Cancun on the 15th. When we arrived there we had some good contacts including a lady associated with Lourdes International and the daughter of the senator of the Yucatan who met us at the airport. This helped us get through customs without a hitch. A bigger challenge was getting from Cancun in two suburbans and a truck loaded down with supplies and bags to the remote village of Chacsinkin. This took about seven hours of driving and seven separate checkpoints. At the very last checkpoint some fifteen miles from Chacsinkin a local deputy wanted to confiscate all of our bags. He was suspicious of drugs since we had so many varied bags in the back of our trunk. I spoke to him saying that the medicine was all in my bag and had my name on it and I identified myself as a pediatrician there to treat Mayan children. He said, "Show me your bag." I looked in the truck and could not find my bag. As it happened, my bag had gone in another vehicle which had already arrived in Chacsinkin and was driven by the senator's daughter, Yamily Calderon. When he realized this and he opened another bag which contained nothing but baby blankets, he laughed and said, "Well in that case there is no problem" and he let us go. We all breathed a sigh of relief and were exhausted but very happy to arrive at the church in Chacsinkin about midnight our first day. We were placed in rooms all around the church and a few homes within a few blocks of the church and slept in hammocks. The next morning we took a walking tour through the town of Chacsinkin and we organized our medicines in a mission clinic across the street from the church. We rigged up makeshift dental chairs with two rocking chairs and set that up in a clinic designed for women and children called Dif. Each little village has its own Dif building which came in very handy since there was running water and it was a clean, well ventilated room. Over the next nine days our group worked twelve hour days seeing patients morning and night and trying to spread some love and good will as well as some much needed medical care. On our final night when we tallied up our numbers we had treated over a thousand patients, and referred several very sick patients with things like pneumonia, hydrocephalus, failure to thrive, and serious eye deformities which were correctable. They were mostly referred to Merida, a large city some three hours away. The two dentists extracted over 150 rotten teeth and gave out a ton of tooth brushes. We joyfully celebrated a thanksgiving mass with Fr. Juan. All of the people we had treated in the four villages showed up in their finest Yucatan costumes to share in the service with us as well as to thank us by dancing for us at an after mass fiesta.

In looking back over this experience I feel extremely privileged to have shared ten days with the many friends I made on our mission team. I loved working with the Mexican mission team already in place there in Chacsinkin and I look forward to working long term to continue the Cajun Chacsinkin Connection and support Fr. Juan with his model farm and his ambitious goal to help the Mayan people. I feel a tremendous gratitude to God for blessing our trip from start to finish. No one got diarrhea. No one had an accident and all twenty-two of us got along well (despite the intense heat, primitive conditions, frequently no toilets, no hot water and lots of flies). I would encourage anyone interested in working on a unique, very personal mission to join our group which meets every two months at my home in Lafayette and help us plan an even more successful campaign for 1997.


J. Brent Prather, M.D.