HealthOutReach Canada – Guatemala – January 2011


Twenty-five North American team members formed “Guatemala 2011” from January 22nd to February 4th, 2011. Week One volunteers operated in the schoolyard of El Rosario and Week Two members worked in a temporary clinic in Quesada.


El Rosario


The school in El Rosario was the main clinic site this year. We operated Monday to Thursday with three dental operatories and three hygiene chairs. Six dental units were working. The community nurse, Ingrid, her sister Sara, assisted with the instrument collection and washing, as well as couple of teachers from the school in Las Mañanitas, who were there only until noon, each day.


The clinic operated with six operators, including three dentists and three hygienists. The dentists all had assistants and the hygienists shared an assistant. Two of the dentists were performed operative dentistry, and one was performing only extractions. Friday was devoted only for the inventory control, and packing supplies and equipment for the Week 2 project in Jutiapa . All the volunteers arrived at the clinic at 8 AM as usual and worked very efficiently and accurately to account and itemize all HO sundries and equipment.

This year, Naturopathic Clinic in Hawaii, was run in partnership with HO. We were helping them by providing the transportation to, and from the clinic every day. We also provided them with some disposables, as previously agreed.


Week Two volunteers from throughout Ontario, Canada, formed a team of ten. On Saturday January 29th, we met in Antigua with Week 1 volunteers. Some debriefing occurred and a transfer of information between volunteers and Team Leaders. The Project leaders also met as planned and reviewed several issues.

The temporary clinic in Quesada was a house. It was prepared for us by the Supervisors of Guatemalan operations of the Spanish NGO Quesada Soladaria. We were assured space to operate three dental operatories. 


We were also assured support staff and the equipment we used the previous year, namely the compressor and the sterilizer. The house was clean and spacious, having multiple rooms. It served our needs tremendously well. The lighting was not ideal. The middle room and back rooms had very little window light and poor incandescent lighting.

The next day, team members left Antigua at 9:15AM. The vehicle promised to us, a Land Rover was dropped off at our hotel. We continued to the airport to drop off luggage for Week 1 members.  We arrived at Quesada at about 1 PM and unloaded items. The clinic was impressive. It had a large lobby type room, and four rooms which could be used as operatories. It also had a washroom, storage room, kitchen area and a little courtyard which allowed a lot of light to enter.



We were greeted by Dr. Estuardo Yaquian, a physician from Jutiapa.  He assured us that he would help us all week. “Estuardo” was working as the only physician in Quesada and the surrounding population. He was constantly being called by those who needed medical care.  However, he made himself available for us Monday through Friday.  Furthermore, he drove a 4X4 truck which helped transport volunteers.

The opportunity for field trips to villages was discussed by Project Leader and organizers last year. This was important so that HO had some control over the patients that were seen. On Wednesday afternoon, after the clinic finished, the entire team voluntarily traveled to a small village named El Retiro. Approximately 30 children were screened there.

The Clinic support staff numbered three, with other Guatemalan volunteers coming at times during the week.

On the last working day, we were assisted by the local dentist Dr. Gina Faggioli and her assistant from Jutiapa hospital. Dr. Faggioli helped by giving local anaesthetic for the other dentists.

The patients consisted of 281 children from various communities surrounding Quesada. 50 children were prebooked for Monday to Thursday. There were also the children screened in villages by HO staff.

On Friday, the final day, we arrived at 8 AM to do inventory. At the end of the morning, the local volunteers were acknowledged with gifts from Canada. They also had an opportunity to speak and thanked tremendously.


“Guatemala 2011” was a record-breaking project. We achieved all our objectives in EL Rosario including the care of 321 patients. In Quesada 281 patients, all children were seen. The Quesada children, as anticipated, had serious and urgent dental needs. Volunteer satisfaction was high from some of the comments expressed to the Project Leader. Project evaluations were generally very positive. One recurring comment was that volunteers wished they could have worked more.

Project Leaders
Timothy Lee and Dragana Golubovic

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