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Volunteer Story: Sandy Gregg

by User Not Found | Mar 25, 2014
Sandy Gregg, System Director, Nursing and Clinical Strategy for Providence Health & Services, came to Alta Verapaz in September 2013 as a member of Providence’s fourth team with MTI. With eight health professionals representing programs in four states, the all-­‐ women team supported the construction of 40 stoves in the village of Granadilla, a project benefitting 230 individuals.

Tortilla making in Granadilla with Sandy Gregg (left) and Aimee Khuu, Program Director for International Missions, Providence Health & Services 

Prior to participating with MTI, Gregg’s previous experience in Latin America included serving on a health delegation to El Salvador with the Catholic Health Consortium in addition to multiple immersion trips with Providence Health & Services. “I have found deep joy in working alongside the people of El Salvador, and I participated on the trip to Guatemala to learn about the work occurring in this country and to determine ways in which we can engage Providence’s nursing workforce to positively impact the health of Guatemalans,” Gregg said. “My time with MTI provided valuable insight related to the resources available in small villages and many of the immediate health needs.”


As a part of Providence’s alliance with Rafael Landívar University, Gregg spent the three days prior to her MTI trip with university staff examining how Guatemalan health professionals approach their care in both urban and rural areas. Her field experience with MTI complemented her overview of Guatemala’s health needs by providing field experience in a high-­‐need area.

The Providence team included two native Spanish speakers, but when community members were only Q’eqchi’-speaking, the team relied on MTI staff or their own creativity to communicate. “We found music and dancing crosses all languages,” Gregg noted. The team also cultivated relationships by sharing learning tools that they had brought as well as participating in community activities. “The children loved to color and draw—coloring books allowed for us to work on something together,” Gregg said. “Just stepping in and trying to help was also effective—for example we watched the women make tortillas and then we just picked up some batter and started to help. The women showed us what to do and cheered for us.”


By spending time with families in their homes as well as having the opportunity to meet for lunch with Mother Monitors and members of Granadilla’s Community Leadership Council, the Providence team was able to connect with individuals in distinct leadership roles whose collaboration with MTI has gone on for several years as well as with families who were participating with an MTI project and with foreign volunteers for the first time. The Guatemalan rainy season provided a dramatic and often slippery backdrop to team activities, but the Providence team met the inclement weather with their walking sticks and rain jackets at the ready and their hearts filled with determination.

When asked to highlight an experience or a relationship that most impacted her over the course of the week, Gregg said that it was a combination of factors that contributed to an overall holistic experience. “I believe it is the culmination of many moments that is so transformational,” she said, pointing to the collaborative effort realized alongside community members, the support of staff, as well as the unity within the Providence team as they worked toward a common goal for the health of Granadilla as key aspects contributing to an overall, high­‐impact experience.

Providence Health & Services continues to look for ways to strengthen its relationship with MTI Guatemala’s maternal and child health initiative, and will sponsor Health Program Manager Aurelia Ma and Community Health Worker Rutilia Jor to attend a conference for health promoters put on by Visión y Compromiso this December in Los Angeles, California.

Story and Photos by Brittn Grey