Guatemalan villagers turn tables on volunteers and help them out

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CHIMAXYAT, Guatemala -- Volunteers from Salt Lake-based Beneficial Financial Group recently traveled to Guatemala on a humanitarian mission. Their goal was to help the villagers with several projects, but one of the volunteers actually received care from the villagers instead.

From early morning to early evening, several dozen volunteers of Beneficial Financial group put their efforts and muscles into building projects in one Guatemalan jungle village. This isn't just Americans coming here to do it for the people. The Guatemalan villagers are working side-by-side with them.

Work hard, play hard; at the end of the day, the children of Chimaxyat still had plenty of energy and challenged their American friends to a game of soccer. The rocky, hilly terrain proved too much for one volunteer. Chad Kerby charged the ball and fell, hearing a cracking noise as he went down.

"Perhaps I got a little carried away and got caught up in a moment, where I suffered a pretty bad injury," Chad said.

Supported by teammates, Chad soon realized he wouldn't be able to walk, let alone work. Swelling and bruising occurred quickly. The villagers cut tree limbs with their machetes to make him crutches, then one of them, named Fernando, brought a homegrown remedy.

"He just looked at my foot and then paused for a moment, took off into the heart of the jungle. Thirty to 40 minutes later, [he] comes back with these leaves, soaks them in salt water and wraps them around my foot," Chad said. "It felt so soothing and so good. And the next morning when I took it off to wrap it again, anywhere there was a leaf the bruising was gone."

The Kerbys returned to their six children in Pleasant Grove on a Sunday; Chad had surgery the next Tuesday. With a plate and eight screws in his leg just above his ankle, he is healing.

Because of the goodness of the villagers, the Kerbys say they are planning a return to Guatemala. "To think that we might never see these people, who have touched our lives so much, ever again, that was hard," Cassie Kerby said.

"We're sitting in the bulkhead, so my leg could be propped up, and Cassie turns to me and says, 'What are you doing to make sure we're here next year?' And we haven't even landed yet, and we're all bandaged up, and she's like, ‘We're doing this again,'" Chad said.

This is a story of the kindness of strangers. When the group left the village, the Kerbys met an American doctor who called a hospital in Guatemala City so that Chad could have an X-ray and gave him enough aspirin to take every four hours to prevent blood clots.



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