—from Guatemala, Central America
In November, 2015, I received the following hand-written letter from a
young community health worker from deep in the jungles of the Petén,
6 November 2015
Hello David Werner !! How’s are you? I send you warm greetings from the cradle of the Mayan Empire. It is a pleasure to write from these distant lands that have received in a very good way the knowledge embodied in your book Where There is No Doctor, and others.
I want to tell you that I am the son of Pedro Ixchop who trained as a health promoter in 1980, in Quieritmo in Quetzal, Potzún, Peten. He gained knowledge of the book from Sheila. This knowledge came from fertile land, and he was the first in the community to work in a basic health unit.
I am the fourth and last child of my family. I was born on April 28, 1988: my parents decided to name me Werner Obeníel, the name that appears on your book. My father died on May 24, 2004 of diabetes, and I am left with the desire to be like him.
In 2011 the opportunity arose for me to begin my training as a health promoter from Susana (Emerich) and other health promoters from Cauce, Peten. I want to tell you that I have your book Where There is No Doctor. I was so happy to have it, because I identify with the book as it bears my name. I finished my training in 2013.
I want to say that I keep my father’s stethoscope and some of his brochures. I support my community as a health promoter, and this year I started my training as a dental promoter. I am excited because I am now practicing and have performed fillings, extractions, tartar removal, and prophylaxis.
I leave you wishing you health and strength to continue the grand work in the service of others.
- Werner Obeníel Ixchop Lopez
Weeks after I got this letter, an advisor to the village health program, Julia Kim, sent me a photo of Werner Obeníel holding the tattered but treasured copy of Donde No Hay Doctor, which had belonged to his father, back in 1980. With the photo Julia sent the following note:
[Werner Obeníel] did receive your letter today and he was full of excitement, to say the least. If it were me I would’ve opened your letter right away whether I had patients waiting or in the middle of a consult, but Werner waited ’til lunch time until he finished attending his morning patients. That’s the kind of promotor/person Werner is. He said “I want to open the letter so badly but I have patients.”