GREAT FALLS – A doctor from Great Falls is sharing her experience after returning home from a mission trip in Guatemala.
Dr. Jill Bolstad works at Benefis Health System as a pediatrician.
“Children are the truest souls. Children are magical. I think Christmas highlights the whole magic of children and the purity of their hearts,” Bolstad said.
Her love for kids inspired her to go to Central America last month through an organization called Health Talents International.
“The biggest thing I want people to know is, I looked at lots of different service organizations before choosing this one. The reason I chose Health Talents International is they have a different approach,” Bolstad said. “Many organizations you see appeals on TV asking to send thirty cents a day to feed a child. I’ve always been skeptical of those. Does the money really go to that child? Are we really helping? The truth is that just feeding people, that’s great, but it doesn’t fix the problem. It doesn’t fix that cycle of poverty. Health Talents International is working to fix the cycle.”
Bolstad spent a week in November performing health exams for both sick and healthy kids.
“People would not understand how wealthy the poorest Americans are compared to how little they have, how hard they have to work to just meet the basic needs of these children for food, shelter and clothing,” Bolstad said.
The program, called ABC Children, has volunteers sponsor a child. The money goes towards keeping children in school, as well as paying for medical and dental care for an entire year.
“It’s a fantastic way to help families get out of the poverty level,” Bolstad said.
Bolstad said aside from the medical needs, something that stood out to her was how hard the people of Chichicastenango, Guatemala work.
“I saw people working in the fields, working on roads, and using equipment that you and I would associate with the 1930s or 40s. All hand tools, no mechanization. It was very impressive,” Bolstad said.