My name is Michael Zielanski and I'd like you to share this journey with me. The destination is Hospital Hilario Galindo in Retalhuleu, Guatemala, the mission is to create smiles and change lives.

A team of 29 volunteers which include medical and non-medical personnel will spend 12 days in Guatemala performing over 100 surgeries. Some of my team members have been on missions before and some have not – this is my first mission. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to capture all the priceless moments of this mission by photograph and personal interviews with the patients and their families.

Let's get started….

Below you will see what I saw from the bus in front of the hospital on the first day we arrived at the hospital. On this day our group is shown the hospital for the first time and each team member becomes familiar with their responsibilities for the coming days. Notice the family standing in front of the locked gate. This was striking to me because I wasn't expecting to see anybody there because the first day of clinic wasn't until the next day, the date advertised for people to show up. This was the very first moment when I realized how powerful this journey was going to be for me.

This family had been waiting there for 2 days and walked over 5 hours to be there. They wanted to be first in line because they wanted to be seen first.
First family close up infront of gate


Below is the front of the hospital from inside the gate that was guarded by an armed security guard.

Front of hospital

I turned around only to find the young boy looking through the bars of the gate. I can only wonder what he was thinking at that very moment.

Boy through gate

Below is an exam room

Exam Room

Below is one of the three operating rooms. I overheard some of the doctors talking about how surprised they were with how advanced some the equipment was.

Operating room