Moose Jaw residents go international in their humanitarian efforts again this year. The Moose Jaw International Medical Mission (MJIMM) sent healthcare professionals and community members down to Guatemala to provide essential medical care and health education to communities most in need. In addition to medical care, the mission helps set up cooking facilities such as stoves, and water filtration to remove the risk of preventable diseases and illnesses. 

The mission had humble beginnings in 2016, with the group being comprised of only six members, which made up its surgical team. Since its inception the mission has grown to nearly 40 members providing additional medical care and overseeing the installation of stoves and water filtration devices. 

The mission was extremely successful in their goal in aiding at-risk communities in Central America this year, with this year’s mission seeing 47 surgeries performed and the installation of 72 stoves and water filters. 

“For me the highlight was installing a stove for a woman who was 83 years old who had been cooking on the ground all of her life, and then this was just a huge impact to see that this was going to change not only her life, but her kids and grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was so ecstatic, it was unbelievable,” said Shauna Sinclair, MJIMM member on the stove installation team. 

Approximately 500 patients in rural communities were seen by representatives of the mission and vital women’s health education was provided to 400 women in said communities. 

Shauna spoke on the importance of providing properly ventilated and higher efficiency stoves, stating that when cooking indoors soot and airborne contaminants linger inside buildings and create lung issues akin to those seen in smokers. 

Focus was also placed on providing women’s health education and menstrual kits to women in the communities visited. With costs and availability of products being prohibitive, the importance of these menstrual kits cannot be understated as many of the women are unable to work or attend schooling during their menstrual period, further limiting education and income.  

The decision to bring these services to Guatemala came about from a former team member in the MJIMM, who brought a small hospital’s need for volunteers and surgical team members to the attention of the group. 

“It’s just like you’re coming back home, everyone’s so happy to see you and it's a huge appreciation. They know what we do and we’re happy to do it,” Shauna said regarding the reception to the mission. 

Melissa MacNeil thanks Moose Jaw community members for their support which makes the work the mission does possible: 

“We can’t accomplish these amazing numbers without community backing, and we really appreciate everyone who’s helped us along the way, whether it just be a small donation, to coming to fundraisers to helping us print something, everybody’s played a part in this.” 

You can support the mission by donating on their website.

Included is a small photo album with images courtesy of the Moose Jaw International Medical Mission.