by Sarah Clark
Heidi Sandoval is a veterinarian from Guatemala City. This is her fourth time joining the team in Todos Santos. Heidi says she receives a lot of fulfillment from the experience. “I like coming to Todos Santos very much. For me it involves sacrifice — to leave my work, my children, and it’s far away — but each year I love the project more and it fills my soul to be able to return and help.”, she explains.
In Heidi’s words, “What attracts me to the program is to be able to help the people here. It also puts in perspective how much one has, which sometimes one doesn’t appreciate. Being able to come here and help enriches me as a person and I like to be able to collaborate with the people here in the community.”
Heidi has been primarily responsible for overseeing patients’ recovery after the surgery. She is in charge of monitoring the patients, making sure they’re in good condition to go home, and giving the families directions about how to care for their pet at home. She also provides rabies vaccines and basic health evaluations.
Another primary role for Heidi over the years has been translation! Heidi frequently helps with translation from English to Spanish (and vice versa) amongst the veterinarians and volunteers: “I love to work on an international team, it’s a beautiful experience… It’s not only sharing technical knowledge but also the interpersonal exchange with all the members of the team.”
Heidi has seen a lot of positive change in the community over the last four years: “I like seeing the patients come for the rabies vaccine and seeing that they’re much better than the first time they came in. I first visited Todos Santos in 2013 and they arrived really bad physically and I like very much to see that they keep coming back. Perhaps the same poor conditions exist in their home, their environment, but they’re physically better! That’s what I like to see, to see that the community waits for this campaign all year, that the children know that they need to bring their pets. To see that the project has been working!”
In the future Heidi would love to see the program expand to other communities. She is aware it would of course be difficult, but there are many communities in Guatemala with a great need, and they would love to have these types of activities and services.