On Monday we got a call from a local friend asking if we'd go visit his neighbor. The information was vague but it was someone in medical need. Chris met up with Mincho on Tuesday and he led the way to his neighbor's house. Let me stop and say that in our almost 7 years here, we've seen some pretty horrible things but nothing has even come close to what we saw of Jose. He's a 19 year old kid bedridden with horrific bedsores and burns, slowly dying.
His mom, Maria, explained that five months ago in July, Jose had been working with a contractor in the city running some aerial cable. Young people here are so desperate for work they'll do just about anything, including dangerous cable work with no training to earn $5-$10 a day. He was working to help support his family and save to begin high school in January. There was an accident and he was electrocuted and severely burned. The contractor met her at the hospital, gave her Q1500 ($200) and told her that Jose had burned his hands and was receiving treatment. That was the last time she saw the contractor and has no way of finding out who he was. Her son was being treated for burns on his hands but also on what appears to be 50% of his body, if not more. $200 really can't do anything for that. He was treated at the national hospital which is a step or two up from the worst care anyone could receive in Guatemala. Public hospitals here are understaffed and notoriously underfunded, commonly not having medicines or basic supplies. When the accident happened, he was on a telephone pole and fell 20 feet to the ground and landed on his back. He has some sort of spinal injury that has left him unable to walk. This injury was never even looked at when he was hospitalized.
After spending three months in the public hospital, Maria feared she was losing Jose as his conditioned worsened and he had developed bedsores. She mortgaged her small home and put him in a very low scale "private hospital" hoping his situation would improve. Last week the money ran out and Jose was sent home to die and four days later we met him.