What is YAM?
YAM stands for Young Adult Mission, an annual service project that serves the indigenous Mayan population of Guatemala. The program is sponsored by Christ United Methodist Church in Rochester, MN. YAM focuses on giving Young Adults the opportunity to serve internationally, but adults of all ages are invited to participate. The teams perform one or more projects including construction, medical, and dental care.
The 2014 trip dates are yet to be determined.
Registrations will be accepted through July 1, 2013.
The Republic of Guatemala is a country the size of Tennessee with a population of 13.5 million. The country is still recovering from a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. Per capita income is $5,200 annually. Fifty-six percent of Guatemala’s population lives below the poverty line, and seventeen percent live on less than one dollar per day. Literacy is 69% and infant mortality is 28 per 1000 live births (for comparison, the US infant mortality is 6.6 per 1000 live births). The indigenous Mayan population in the highlands lives on subsistence farming and craftwork (weaving and sewing). Most children in rural areas drop out of school by the 6th grade to work and supplement family income. School attendance is only 41%, so that education in rural areas does not prepare students for further schooling, even if it were available to them.
Medical teams are made up of doctors, nurses, and other helpers both medically and non-medically trained. Medical teams serve in remote mountain villages. While some patients speak Spanish, most speak only K’iche, a Mayan dialect. Translators and village leaders help the medical team communicate with the patients. A wide range of conditions are seen, including arthritis, bronchitis, lice, pneumonia, anemia, skin infections, pregnancy, and intestinal parasites. Many of the women have early onsetarthritis due to their work – carrying heavy loads on their backs and heads, and kneeling at their weaving looms. The medical team travels every day with all supplies, including medications, sheets to create exam rooms, and lunch
Optical teams are made up of members not participating in the medical team. Using an autorefractor, team members scan patients’ eyes and provided prescription glasses that are the best fit for the patient’s eyesight needs. The eyeglass team travels every day with all supplies, including several thousand pairs of glasses, the autorefracting equipment, and a computer.
The construction team is made up of any members who do not travel with the medical team on any given day. Construction work is completed primarily at the Lemoa Retreat Center or the Salud y Paz preschool. Projects often include mixing concrete by hand with hoes and shovels, building concrete block foundations and walls, tying rebar, painting, and applying stucco.
The dental team is made up of one or more dentists and dental hygienists or nurses. Too much sugar and lack of proper dental hygiene are rampant in rural Guatemala. Many patients who see the dentist must have multiple rotten teeth extracted. Patients are seen two or three at a time on portable corrugated plastic dental chairs. Patients are given a local anesthetic and use a communal spit bucket. Tools are sterilized between patients. In 2010, nearly 500 teeth were pulled over 5 days.
How can I help?
The first way to help YAM is to join the team! We need doctors, nurses, dental hygienists, and anyone able to hold a paint brush. If you’re unable to join the YAM team, there are several tax deductible ways to help out:
- Sponsorship: Monetary gifts can be given in honor of a specific team member or to the general YAM fund. Gifts to the YAM fund help pay for medications, optical and construction supplies, and tips for our translators and drivers. Make Checks payable to CUMC-YAM.
- Auction support: We need lots of help to make our yearly Auction and Meal fundraiser a success! Consider donating an item to be sold on the auction, such as a themed basket, art, gently used furniture, handmade items like blankets or quilts, or services (housecleaning, a meal, bread-making lessons, etc.). You can also donate your time to help set-up, cook, or clean-up.
- Donations: YAM is also in need of donated supplies, such as travel soaps and shampoos, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, vitamins, toothpaste and toothbrushes, and more. These items are given to patients or donated to the Salud y Paz Clinic.