East Texas doctors, nurses provide healthcare in Guatemala through Refuge International

Published: Jul. 31, 2021 at 2:17 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - A group of East Texas doctors and nurses are working hard to provide quality health care, not here locally, but in Central America.

It’s all part of a large charitable organization called Refuge International, a group of people who donate their time and services to people in impoverished areas.

The group is providing health care, and in many cases, life-saving surgery, in Guatemala.

“We are comprised of all volunteers. Surgeons, nurses, clinicians, folks that come down and do dental work. Vision work and education projects,” said Kimberly Johnson in San Raymundo Guatemala.

Since 2003, Refuge International, which started in Longview, has been helping people in some of the most remote areas of Guatemala.

A group of 40 arrived Friday and went to work.

“There is a lot of need. Health care is very difficult to access here in Guatemala as it is in so many developing countries. People here don’t have the luxury we have at home to go see a doctor,” Johnson said.

“That’s why medical missions of many organizations are so important for Guatemala and so available,” said fellow team member and interpreter Abby Giron.

The diverse mix of team members have to deal with a lot of adversity.

“Power goes out. Rainstorms happen. There might be a chicken walking through a clinic. We make it work,” Kimberly said.

The patients come from homes with no electricity, no access to clean water, and no access to the level of health care that North Americans take for granted.

“If you can bring a little light and love into somebody’s otherwise daily struggle, that’s what we’re getting out of it I guess personally,” Johnson said.

Team members from all over the U.S. participate in Refuge International.

The group makes trips to Guatemala three to four times a year, and its members stay for a week each time to provide for health care needs.

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