Xavier-Purdue game on Saturday gives fans a chance to help provide medical care in a Guatemalan village

The interfaith medical mission trip takes students and staff to Guatemala over the winter break | December 2, 2011

Fans arriving at the men’s basketball game against Purdue at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, are being asked to donate toward the costs of a University-sponsored interfaith medical mission trip to a remote Guatemalan village.

The trip, organized by Xavier’s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement, is taking 12 pre-med, nursing and occupational therapy students, two Xavier staff and four medical professionals on a week-long journey over winter break to the mountain village of Patanatik. This is Xavier’s third such trip and the second to Patanatik, which had never had a medical doctor visit its 584 families until the Xavier team arrived last winter.

Now the Patanatik region is an annual service location for the group.

The students making the trip will canvass fans before and after the game outside the Cintas Center arena and briefly inside the concourse. Funds raised will buy pharmaceuticals and provide medical attention to the villagers, said Rabbi Abie Ingber, director of Interfaith Community Engagement and the trip leader.

“We are doubly fortunate,” Ingber said. “Xavier has both exceptional basketball and a lifestyle that is not short of a blessing. The people of Guatemala have so little, and though I doubt we will ever recruit a Guatemalan player—the Mayans are traditionally short statured—I do know that our medical mission brings great blessings in Xavier’s name to this impoverished community.”

The students from Ohio, New York, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana have committed to volunteer at least 20 hours at a Mercy Health Partners free clinic upon their return. They include the Muslim Free Clinic in Anderson or the OBGyn clinic in Fairfield, which serves primarily a Hispanic population.

The first interfaith medical mission trip in January 2010 was to Jamaica. In four and a half days, the group saw 511 patients among old slave huts in remote regions of Steer Town Jamaica. Last year a planned trip to Haiti had to be canceled because of the political unrest, but the team regrouped and headed for Guatemala, where they saw 384 people in four days in the clinic and made 75 home visits over two days.

“The learning curve, the experiential growth and the community-building strengthening of our students’ commitment to the healing professions and service are the hallmarks of these trips,” says Ingber. “Our spiritual dimension and the Jesuit values we bring enhance our offering.”

The group needs $50,000 to fly, feed and house 18 people for the week. Team members will be passing around buckets to collect cash donations at the game on Saturday. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to the Office of Interfaith Community Engagement, 3800 Victory Parkway, ML 2120, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207. Please make checks payable to Xavier University - IFCE. For more information, call 513-745-3569.