Remembering with Ms. Mery Hernández.
This dream was born more than 45 years ago, in the Municipality of Uspantán el Quiché, where with my husband Don Salomón we dedicate our lives to serve others, fulfilling the commandment of Jesus: “You will love your neighbor as to yourself”; Our passion has always been to serve the needy, our ministry basically focused on visiting the homes of very poor people bringing them medicines, food and clothing. It has been a very rewarding way of life that allows us to feel very close to the Lord.
Much of our family life coincided with the armed conflict suffered by our country, which severely affected the rural communities in the department of Quiche, we, having learned the Quiché language, we realized that this was a great tool because it broke barriers, then my husband was devoted to convince the villagers to send their children to schools, talked to them about the importance of literacy; and meanwhile he taught the ladies to prepare food; while he helped with basic medicines. Both were attending births and newborn care. Later (during the armed conflict) having created a bond of trust with the people of Quiché speaking, it was a great blessing of communication that built an invisible bridge of friendship.
We, despite being affected by this cruel war, decided to remain in the mountains of Uspantán and help the people who approached desperately to request it. Any help was good, but our main tool was always prayer. Our house in Uspantán has been the scene of important events in the life of a considerable number of people; We have witnessed the powerful hand of God working in every life. We host angels from their most innocent expression as orphaned and dispossessed children, of which we shelter 97 children, providing them with food and clothing; These little ones only wanted to feel protected, and loved because they were only victims of a war and did not understand the reasons why it was given. We welcomed them the necessary time until their relatives pronounced and were able to pick them up. The needs were many and varied, but in his time we tried to cover what was within our reach. Health problems were very frequent given the economic precariousness and the difficult access, our efforts to improve this situation were always limited by distance. My husband having paramedic training attended to some of these problems either outside our house or walking long distances to take medicines to people’s homes. At that time, any type of contribution was sought, obtaining from CÁRITAS de Guatemala and FUNDAPI some basic foods, clothes, and medicines.
In this difficult time of civil war, the 1976 earthquake coincided, which affected the entire country, and left us homeless, as did most citizens. Despite the limitations, we divided our time into a reconstruction project that we integrated into, and we continued helping by creating a support group for widows andvictims war. At this time we received the visit of the young Bruce Jones, who had references of the projects we were developing and decided to travel alone and visit us. Bruce Jones, barely 19 years old, lived with us for a few months in a small hut that we had improvised, but every day he struggled to get involved inwork daily. His time in our house was a great blessing, and later when he returned to his country and convinced of the needs, he shared his experience with his friends and members of his church who, moved by their testimony, formed work groups (children of missionaries or members of churches) who traveled to Uspantán willing to work on any of the projects. So between the years 1979 to 1991 we received two groups of people per year who gave great input, during this timewere houses, schoolsbuilt and other projects were strengthened. These friends of friends, young students, children of friends and so on make up these chapters of our history and Bruce Jones became the first link in this great chain of friendship.
In 1991 in one of these groups that we received, we met Jeny and Stive Wibie, a couple that was very moved by the poverty of the people and motivated by the work we did, they wanted their parents to meet us. In 1992 Jim and Judit Halverson, (parents of Jeny Wibie) traveled to Antigua Guatemala on a tourist trip, inviting us to meet them there. The affinity was immediate and we began to maintain a correspondence relationship, and a year later, the Halversons made all the arrangements to take us to the United States and introduce ourselves to the students of the University of Westmont, where Jim Halverson was Director, of equal In this way, meetings were held in churches and Christian groups. His mission was to publicize the projects we were developing in the mountains of Uspantán, and especially the way he presented himself to Jesus through service to others. This act of trust opened the doors to meet many students of the University of Westmont who soon also got involved with existing projects. On that same first visit to the USA, we met Michael Hays, a former student of Westmont, and who worked for Direct Relief; He invited us to visit his offices and also offered us what we needed to provide health and nutrition assistance. A short time later we started receiving these donations. During this time we also met Bart and Linda Tarman. Bart was Chaplain of the University of Westmont and through them we also met Jovanni Tricerri, a student from the same university and who made our conversations easier and more enjoyable by being our translator, like Viria Paselh and thus many students with whom we identified.
The following year the Tarman met Uspantán and then began to form groups of students from the University of Westmont whom they sent to support us with our mission and with whom we share our dreams; So many walks, with pleasant experiences living with people in almost forgotten villages, are memories that will last forever. The trips became frequent both from us to the United States and from the Tarman to Uspantan, creating a strong bond of friendship, and producing a pact of love and friendship in Jesus with the commitment to always pray for each other, in addition to sharing friends. On these trips and through Bart and Linda we met many people who also became our friends like Tim and Della Cass, Rick and Veronica Alexander, Bob and Charlene Pagett, Jeff and Susie Fleming and many other true angels who have been in our lives being the support of projects such as “Water for my home” “Vegetable cultivation” and School projects, in addition to supporting us with medical clinics, dentistry service in both Uspantán and Costa Sur where we continued supporting the ministry.
Thanks to so many friends, we were also blessed with the best medical care for my husband in Hospitals in the United States where he was repeatedly admitted when his health was affected with heart problems. One of those cold afternoons of the Uspantán mountains, with rain and fog, in front of the usual bonfires, conversations about our dreams and long-term projects arise; We shared with the Tarmans that we wanted to create a health care center that could provide adequate care to the sick without making a distinction of creed or ethnicity.
Uspantán did not have easy access roads at the same time as electricity was poor and unstable, which is why it was not feasible to realize the dream of a permanent care center with beds and other services in that sector; It was then thought to build the health care center in San Miguel Petapa, where there is also a great need for health care, and technology is accessible, in addition to being in the sector where our children live.The Tarman welcomed the idea by committing to pray for this dream and share it with their friends; They made trips to present the project with their friends and churches in the United States, They sent their friends to Uspantán to talk about our projects, and of course the help was swift, funds were soon raised for this purpose.
In the year of 1996, this dream began to be shaped, being the parents of Sam Winter (former student of Westmont) who contributed to the purchase of the land where the dream medical center would be built. The land needed a lot of investment and work, because it was not flat, there was a need to dig a lot, to be able to level at street level, and it was with the help of Westmont College students who came to Guatemala on vacation days and worked with His hands stirring the earth. Now we had the support of our Children Dany, Mady and Shelly, who perform functions from the administrative, professional, executive and operational.
In 1997, the WESTMONT BETHEL SOCIAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION was established, a non-profit organization that allows the institution to be legally shaped and able to channel donations.That same year we were referred to a company of Engineers who traveled specifically to carry out the soil study and design the plans with mediated bases that would serve as the foundation for the building. We also met Doug Co, (Bart’s friend) who made the first contribution to the construction; This decision motivated more people to make their donations and months later construction of the building began. Meanwhile, the Uspantán projects continue, such as the construction of houses for very poor people, the project schools, and medical clinic.
Four years later in 2000, the first phase of the building, basement and first level was inaugurated, and patient care began in the clinics;consultation attention external. At that time we did not have any hospital equipment. However, that same year we received the first donation of equipment that came from Direct Relief through its manager Michael Heys, which consisted of Beds, Stretchers, Wheelchairs, Lamps, Lecterns, baths, bedside tables, as well as medications and supplies , with which we began to equip the rooms for patient care and treatment, such as a day hospital.
In 2002, a room for the operating room was set up with an improvised lamp starting with the surgeries, in addition to extending the service to 24 hours. The hiring of staff to work in the hospital became a strength to support medical journeys in Uspantán always committed to providing this service.
In 2003, Through Tim and Della Cass, and Bob and Charlene Pagett of Assistent International we received a donation of X-ray equipment, Ultrasound Electrocardiogram and an electricity generator, which expanded the service.
In 2005 the construction project is restarted in its second phase; a hard work of Bart and Linda Tarman and Jovanni and Hilary Tricerri who, leaving their comfort in the United States, came to live in San Miguel Pétapa and worked tirelessly getting contacts, writing letters and donation requests for this purpose, Don & Heather Valencia, Robert & Sharon Moore, Tim & Della Cass, Greg & Dawn Lindholm Bill & Joanne Celler, Michaelle and many others, joined this phase, whose vision was to add to the construction one more level of bedding, an elevator and two operating rooms.
In 2006, Mr. Rubén Pérez Contador / Auditor and his wife joined the team. He has experience in the construction of health companies. Mr. Pérez helps us in the handling of donations and cash flow for both construction and operating expenses. In addition, their direct participation in the redesign of the third level was very important, thus achieving a modern and appropriate environment, with the necessary requirements to provide the hospitalization service.
At the beginning of 2007 and with the third level finished, but still without medical equipment, The Tricerri worked to get organizations that could donate the medical equipment we needed to start working at this new level. Our desire and prayer was to have an inauguration with the equipped hospital. Suddenly the miracle happened; A charity called Project CURE sent a commissioner to know the facilities and take note of the equipment that was needed. After a few months we receive the long-awaited donation, and we equip this new level.
In April 2008, this level was inaugurated, which has eleven hospital beds, two well-equipped operating rooms, a newborn area, a largestation nursing, each area has health services, and a donated elevator was also installed by the Moore family. Now this building meets the standards required by Guatemalan health authorities.
In 2011, Bob Pagett of Assist International with the support of Tim Cast, Rick Alexander, together with a group of Rotarians, donated more medical equipment,monitors multi-parameterfor the rooms with a monitoring center, a video tower, another Ray equipment X, (now digital) incubators and bacinete. In addition, a large number of Shoes and Adidas Brand clothing for our Schools in Uspantán project. This year there was a reopening ceremony for the new equipment.
Starting this year, a group of Rotarians supported us every year with educational and health conferences, bringing ophthalmologists and dentists (Jeff and Susie Fleming) to provide their free services to the people of Uspantán.
In 2013 with the direct support of Don Rubén Pérez presenting reports on the flow and use of donations, remodeling and construction began again, whose plans consisted of construction of the 4th level of the Hospital, and remodeling of the 1st and 2nd level unifying the Design of the entire building. That same year the opportunity to buy the land that now occupies the parking lot was presented, thanks to a large number of people who contribute their donations for this dream. There have been several changes where we have clearly seen the favor of God directing and providing for every beautiful detail. In March 2016, this last phase of construction was inaugurated, a 4th level of offices, boardroom, a large kitchen and dining room, the basement was remodeled, placingat this diagnostic services and emergency roomlevel; the 2nd level was remodeled relocating clinic and reception areas; and on the 3rd level they changed doors and a base was placed.
The Medical Days service in Uspantán is continued with the support of the hospital staff and patients who need Hospitalization are transported by members of our family, to the Hospital where they are provided with medical or surgical care, they are also provided with lodging until they recover and are returned to their homes.
On May 4, 2017, my husband Salomón Hernández left for the presence of the Lord, and I am absolutely certain that he saw his dreams come to an end.
We recognize that none of this would have been possible without the favor of God who has used each person to help us, and I can firmly say that God hasbeen alwaysfaithful and his mercies have never been exhausted.
From generation to generation is your faithfulness.
Psalms 119: 90