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Prosthetics and First Lady of Guatemala…


I joined the crew from Hospital Shalom, San Benito, a Christian hospital in Peten.  Tim and Doris Spurrier started this work years ago.  They have surrounded themselves with friends both nationals and expats.  It is an expanding work.  Vine International has helped over the years shipping containers of building materials and medical materials.  One of those friends, started coming in 2006 is Brent Wright (son of Bill Wright mission electrical engineer life long missionary).  Brent is a prosthetist with a mind for missions and our unique needs.  He works outside the constraints of oppressive expensive regulations in the USA where the prosthetics he fashions are between $6,000 and >$14,000.  The average income in Peten is around $4,500 a year.  No family can afford to give all of almost three years wages for a prosthesis.

There are 15 million souls in Guatemala of which 0.7% – almost 104,000 are amputees.  The need for  prostheses is huge.  Electrical injuries, motorcycle and car accidents, snake bites make up 20% of that need.  Diabetes is the cause for 80% of amputations in Guatemala.  Many of the ministries Vine International works with are striving to teach proper nutrition, diabetes prevention and proper management once diabetes occurs.  There are not enough ministries.  Hospital Shalom has an education component to their care.  But what is really exciting is that Brent has corralled a circle of special friends, organizations and businesses to help collect new and used, manufacture new components and make a unit for above knee amputees for about $400.  The health department will help in screening candidates for prostheses.  They will ask that each patient pay something… the plan is that this program will collect about 30% from in country/patient payments and Hospital Shalom will fund raise for the remaining financial needs.  Most take better care of the unit if it cost them something.  I know of one case where this group took a small bag of corn in exchange for walking out of the clinic instead of being carried out.  I know Brent and Tim think that was a good deal.

We spent this morning in a board room in the Presidential Palace discussing this issue with staff from the First Lady’s Office.  The First Lady has control of most humanitarian aid and health issues.  While we did not meet her directly we did meet her secretary and three other very nice ladies over the public health department.  They will make their report and move it up the chain.  We will see in time what will happen.  Brett did an excellent presentation and presented the new injection molded plastic simplified knee joint that we believe will handle some of the issues unique to rural life in the developing world.  Metal components need to be lubricated.  That means they collect and hold dust and dirt.  The humidity causes them to rust.

Hospital Shalom will send a double pallet of components and the moldable plastic for the sockets for the stumps and plaster two or three times a year.  It will cost close to $1000 each time to ship those items, our cost.  In light of trying to hold costs down, we have asked the FLO and SOSEP to see if they could help in keeping our containers from being delayed in port as this will help control container rental fees.  The meeting seemed to go well, lasting two hours with a lot of positive head nodding.  I am not quite as excited as Tim is, but Tim is a visionary and I am a nuts and bolts kind of guy.  The LORD uses both kinds.

Brent, I have thirty years of cast saw experience and would love to help.  We will do another blog post with photos of the patients and Brent’s team at work during the middle week of September when Hospital Shalom puts a planned 20 above knee protheses on patients in need.  If you want to give to this project, check out the web page linked here Hospital Shalom, San Benito, Peten, Guatemala.  You will find the bag of corn story in the first video clip on the prosthetics page. There are photos of past prosthetic clinics and other good info about the work.  You can donate online.

Please do Vine International a favor and tell them we sent you.  Also the medical/prosthetic side of this equation is the ‘sexy’ side and is easy to see the need for support.  Please do not forget that much occurs in the background and is less ‘sexy’ like SHIPPING, covering Brett and team mates travel expenses, etc.  It takes Vine International anywhere from $10,000 to 25,000 per container.  But that is returned over 40 fold in aid to Guatemala. has given $9,822,647 to non-profit members.  With four of us using this service less than two months we have raised $5.00.  Use Goodsearch as your search engine and they put a penny in the Vine pot each time. (a penny is pretty small but if 500 of our friends used this search engine, well you can see the power of numbers.)  I plan on using Goodshop for some of my birthday/Christmas shopping this year.  Businesses on Goodshop give anywhere from 1-30% of purchase price to the designated ministry.  Explore the site for coupons with good savings and other ways to give.  Simply put Vine International in the box where they ask who you desire to support.

Thank you for your support in prayer, material and financial needs.  We are humbled and take seriously your time and sacrifice.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 30/04/2013 09:19

    I think shipping is “sexy”…Thanks for all you do!


  2. Brent Wright permalink
    30/04/2013 09:23

    I think shipping is “sexy”. Thanks for all you do!


  3. 30/04/2013 09:27

    Reblogged this on Lifenabled and commented:
    Great synopsis of our meeting in Guatemala.


    • 30/04/2013 09:34

      Thanks for sharing Brent. I pray that fantastic support for the project comes your way. You know some of the men we work with here have great need for your skill and product. Hope your presence in Guatemala grows. Folks this is a very worthy ministry to a very needy people. Vine International supports this work by shipping the materials needed and we work at keeping costs to a minimum. Supporting Brent in this work and Hospital Shalom will have life changing and life saving benefits. Dennis McCutcheon Vice President of Asociacion Vine International Guatemala.


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