Xavier students travel to Guatemala to serve medical and spiritual needs of remote village residents

The group of 12 students and medical professionals leaves on Dec. 27 for the 10-day trip | January 2, 2013

Xavier students and staff left on Thursday, Dec. 27, for a 10-day medical mission trip to a remote village in Guatemala where they are offering medical care for the residents. The group includes 12 students, a student assistant, an emergency room nurse and doctor couple from Los Angeles, a Cincinnati pediatrician and Rabbi Abie Ingber, founding director of Xavier’s Center for Interfaith Community Engagement.

The 2013 Medical Mission to Guatemala is the fourth such trip for Xavier students. In January of 2010, the first interfaith medical mission trip sent a similar group to Jamaica where they saw and treated 511 patients living in old slave huts in remote regions of Steer Town. Most had never received any medical care, and six were evacuated to a hospital for immediate attention.

In the last two years, the team has found a similar need in Guatemala, where they saw almost 500 people in the clinic and made 75-100 home visits each time. Ingber initiated and coordinated the medical mission trips. Students who participated write about their experiences, and their work is posted to a blog site on the center's website.

“The learning curve, the experiential growth and the community-building that strengthens our students’ commitment to the healing professions and service are the hallmarks of this trip” Ingber said. “Our spiritual dimension and the Jesuit values we bring enhance our offering.”

The students, who are majoring in various health care studies such as pre-med or nursing, give up a week of their winter break to serve residents of the village of Patanatik in the Solola Lake mountain region, where they also offer spiritual support and learn about Mayan culture. The students also commit to volunteer at least 20 hours at a free clinic when they return.

The care the team provides is free, but the trip is not. Ingber estimates the group needs $50,000 to fly, feed and house 18 people for one week. To help pay for the trip, the center is accepting tax-deductible donations that may be sent to Xavier University, Center for Interfaith Community Engagement, 3800 Victory Parkway ML 2120, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207. Please make checks payable to Xavier University-IFCE. Please call 513-745-3569 with questions.