BANASA FARM, Guatemala (April 14, 2014) – Standing before a gleaming new building rising from the surrounding ramshackle villages, Gustavo Bolaños delivered a simple yet powerful message to the assembled dignitaries and banana plantation workers.
“Today we are making the dream of my father a reality,” the chief operating officer of major fruit producer AgroAmérica said late last month. “My father Jose Fernando Bolaños believed in the dignity of work, in improving the lives of his employees and the welfare of the community. And this is the result.”
The clinic includes laboratories, a dental office, exam rooms, a reception and a separate research building. Living quarters are planned for visiting health care workers.
Project C.U.R.E. donated $400,000 worth of medical equipment including a labor and delivery suite, needles, incubators and microscopes which arrived in two 40-foot shipping containers.
The presence of the Center for Human Development means local health workers called `tecnicas’ won’t be spending as much time tracking down pregnant women and newborn babies.
Berman has had a storied career in global health. He’s set up immunization programs for Colorado children and designed care management systems for pneumonia for the World Health Organization. But this may be his most exciting venture yet.
“It’s rewarding in every way possible, especially when you see remarkable results like this on the ground,” he said. “But you’re only as good as your team and the people who really made this happen were Edwin, Marco, Gustavo and his brother Fernando who had the vision.”
The center is already having an impact back home.
Berman recently interviewed a Stanford professor drawn to CU because the Guatemala project. And two fellows came to work at the university for the same reason.
Asturias said more and more students and professionals are interested in global health careers.
“At CU we recognize that there’s a lot of talent in the health care field wishing to go beyond the U.S.,” he said. “This is a great way of attracting that talent.”
Back at the center, the Vatican’s representative in Guatemala, Archbishop Nicolas Thevenin, blessed the clinic and the gates were thrown open.
Hundreds of workers and their families rushed in. They toured spotless rooms, marveling at a place that now belongs as much to them as anyone. Signs bore the logos of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Judith Albino, former president of CU, walked among the throng.
“I am absolutely amazed by what I’ve seen here,” she said. “I’m so thrilled that the Colorado School of Public Health can be a part of this. This is exactly what we stand for.”