A doctor from Guatemala: If people went to the shaman, it is not necessary to say that he’s an idiot

“If a person comes to you and says, “Hey, I was a shaman, but did not work, and I come to you”, you don’t need to tell him that he’s an idiot, and that he wouldn’t do that. You say, “Now we will help you. Now we will make so that the treatment of the shaman’s working”. You give him paracetamol to get him there that is not sick. You have to be smarter, you have to be smarter. Need to be more flexible”.

Victoria with patients

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Visiting more than 60 countries and having worked in third world countries physician, Victoria Velikova, a young doctor from Ufa, went to Guatemala to build a hospital for the indigenous Maya. Managed to do it for the year to negotiate with the authorities, to run a successful crowdfunding campaign, find architects, invite medical volunteers. Now Vick is with the team launch a second hospital in Nicaragua. And in the next 10 years, plans to open several more clinics for poor people in third world countries. About the life of the project, risks, fears, victories, and daily routine of wick writes in detail in a personal account in social networks.

Victoria Velikova

“Abortion I’m not going to do – I’m on you will bring damage”

– What error you have was the first hospital that you in Nicaragua will not do this again?

– We had errors with the volunteers, this is the most interesting to talk to. We took everyone. Like, if you’re a doctor and want to come, then come. We have not had the opportunity to gain professional builders. We recruited anyone who wants to come to build.

We have worked together. We had a small team, all volunteers for an hour a day doing something. Karina worked 24/7. And we didn’t have a recruiter, we didn’t have the algorithm, as we recruit someone. So many guys could not stand and left. Many simply did not come. That is agreed, brought to the last and did not come. We have a lot of conflicts on the project because no one had done any preparation, no one is interviewed, no one is recruited in the normal fashion.

– People traveling for romance?

– People traveling for anything. I will not say that someone was riding just for romance. All people go with different goals. Today you want romance, tomorrow a beautiful piece of paper that voluntaril on the project, the next day you still want to save the world, then decided again for the romance, then you called, and didn’t have enough experience, you decided to gain. Not even the fact that different people have different goals, and different people have different goals at different times. Today one, tomorrow another.

Much better now with it. I think we are recruiting better than in commercial organizations. There is a recruiter and assistant recruiter. They’re interviewing 3 times, there are certain questionnaires that need to be filled, the members decide cases, etc.

Now, to be absolutely left person who is one hundred percent not suitable for us, got to the project, I don’t know what would happen. Everybody close your eyes, skip it. And he goes through 4-5 people now. We do not have this, do people leave the project or come to him. Sometimes, of course, but we know much earlier, 3 months, and unable to find someone. Now left people on the project no.

– Guatemala now what number of people works in the team?

Two doctors, Ksenia from Moscow. Anna from Lviv, photographer Alexis of America, assistant Max from the States and two nurses from Guatemala.

Is how many patients?

Is the least per day – 40 people. On average 50-60 people per day.

– Clinic is open 7 days a week?

– Yes, around the clock, 7 days a week. We have a consultation, when we consult people with ordinary illnesses such as colds, from 8 am to 4 PM 5 days a week. On Saturday up to 12. And for any emergency: childbirth, cut somebody, injury is available.

The most frequent reason for which people appeal to you in Guatemala – what’s that?

– Diarrhea.

– The lack of clean drinking water?

Well, they do not wash, do not wash their hands do not handle food, have no toilets, many do not have running water. It’s all health. Imagine Russia 150 years ago, and you’ll come right to us.

– You’re talking a lot about the situation of women in Guatemala, about their lack of rights, about the fact that they endlessly have children, I do not know about contraception, do not know how to read, write. In such a community come two unmarried girls without children and build a hospital. Do you think it may change something in the minds of women who see you as an example of another life? Or their way of life is still exactly the same? Can someone also want to become a doctor?

– I say this: the women are in this position not because they do not know what is different. This is mainly because your face beat in early childhood and raped at 8 years old, and you have 10 brothers and sisters, and you’re not. Not because you’re so saw nothing and know nothing. Everything is much more dramatic than people think. Well, we saw a girl in 5 years, like, “Oh, cool. White women build the hospital.” First, in 5 years she did not understand. Very weak women. Few people understand what’s going on. And adults don’t understand. “Ah, well, probably working for someone. You must have a lot of money. And then there is no problem if a lot of money.”

A woman in 15 years, have two children, not much will change, what she saw, “Oh, cool, you hospital was built. I want that too. And, damn, I have two children. And my husband is so right, give me the hospital to build a house.” So I don’t think it’s something much changes in reality. Of course, we want to believe and you want to say that Yes, everyone is looking at us, things have changed and the world has changed.

But no. In fact, everything is not, and never will be. Although, of course, want to believe. I can say that Yes, kids watch us and take an example. I think they take their lead from what we do a lot of work. They look at us and think: “Here are morons, so much to plow. You’d better go, corn is collected.” But that’s my pessimistic view. I have a very pessimistic mood this morning.

– You do not have rose-colored glasses?

– I have. I believe in a bright future, I just want to change how people perceive all of our charity to third world countries. It is not so: he came, he built a hospital, and everyone started to wear you Hawaiian ribbon with flowers with the words: “Oh, my God, you guys are great. Oh, we all recovered. And we will come to you and say thank you. We now bring you some fruit, baskets already sent”. All do not.

– And how then? As you have it is changing?

– Yes in any way. He came, he built a hospital. You want money because you built a hospital.

– Local residents?

– Yes all and Sundry. What else is there good going on? Anything went, someone was taken to the hospital, everyone wanted money for that lucky someone to the hospital. Relatives want money from you to return home. A woman comes and says: “I Want an abortion”. I said, “We don’t do abortions”. She’s like, “Abortion I don’t want to do, right? And I’ll go and you will bring damage”. Something. The idea that all of you just bow down, is a lie and provocation.

– You hardly expected that you are to bow at his feet? And went for it? I’m pretty sure.

– No, of course. I was going to return to Russia to work in a normal place, well, live a normal life, be a unique expert in their field. And see how it turned out. It is not in Russia.

And not in a comfortable hospital, right?

And not in a comfortable hospital, and without pay. So, what kind of life is an interesting thing.

If you want to treat only obedient, it is not worth it at all in medicine to go

– Frequently talking about professional burnout. You do that?

I do not know. If you work 365 days a year and some, I don’t know it’s happening or not. Burnout is like? It’s probably for people who don’t like what you’re doing. And for those who like, I guess, this does not happen. I don’t know. We have the same graph is not normalized. I don’t work from 8 to 6. But there is no vacation, it is impossible. We can’t leave for 2 weeks on vacation – who will work at this time?

Vic, then, what supports you? You are now told that the woman comes and asks to have an abortion, then you also get for not doing her this abortion. Someone will try to Rob someone will try to stick to you. Don’t do what you recommend, just don’t wash my hands. But when it continues indefinitely day by day, that you support it then?

– I like it. I just don’t have those rose-colored glasses that all is good, all I have to do something. Okay, people didn’t wash my hands and got sick again. Well, famously, gave the work for another. What’s the difference: new man or same?

It would be great to live in this world if everyone was smart, beautiful, good, obedient. All would go on line and “thank you” you said. But the world do not, and never will be so.

So if you think we’re going to take and we will only be obedient to treat, and all the others we’ll go and bury immediately, it is never worth while to the medicine to go, anyway there was nowhere worth going. And then you need to live in civilized countries.

If you want maximum accuracy, maximum of order, maximum people do what you want, then you are not in a third world country because there will not be so initially. People will score on you and do as they are accustomed for centuries to do. And you’re head against the wall to fight, until you change one little thing.

– There is something that you borrowed from the Guatemalans?

– More relaxed attitude to life. I do, I think, nor about what do not worry. With friends have kids. And I also want children. But its not, and to adopt. But worried, what stroller to choose 3 wheels or 4, so that the machine thrust.

In Guatemala just give birth to 10 children. Some others bring up, walking, are all growing like grass. And all such calm, to relax. No one is strongly not steamed that you have a diaper worse than her neighbor. And normal. I think everything should be in one extreme and not in another. I think now, no matter what, still better than most people do in this world.

– You, you mean, in your life?

– Yes, and you have in your life. Yes, actually any person, who would phone to pick up the phone, already better than many people who live in this world.

We have not, as in Russian clinic: no one medicine, but you this group of 4 different medications, now we’d find you. If we have no medicines, no drugs, and no one else medication. And people die. And when people die, it’s bad. I generally do not like when people die.

“Maybe you through month for the drugs coming? – Yes, we have people die”

– Do you supply medicines came from Europe or you get them there?

– We have several channels. We are from Russia we carry. We still, unfortunately, volunteers are required to bring their donation. That they have spelled out in the contract. Want to us – driven donation. Not taking donation does not fall to us. All that is in liquid form, we buy in Guatemala donazione money because to transport all sorts of solutions – it is unreal. And share many. We get from the US donation, mostly consumables, drugs: syringes, plasters, bandages, gloves. From Honduras received medication from another clinic, where I worked at the time. They share with us. We have a lot of different threads.

– Now the clinic in Guatemala rebuilt. How much time ahead you are sure that it will not close and will function?

– In terms of the fact that there is a ceiling does not collapse?

– In terms of financing and the flow of drugs. For example, you know that, whatever happens, 3 months or six months or a year it will work. There are numbers?

– I think that if, say, tomorrow I fly and the plane crashed, we’re still left with Karina. Karina is the second key person, she should be able to steer the entire organization. We obviously will have problems with the content will be a big dip in traffic and donations, I guess. But you never know until you die. In General, if we both went and died, we have people who, most likely, will take it under his wing.

Money, I think six months will definitely be enough. For a year, perhaps even enough. But the problem is that we get drugs in the physical equivalent, and they do not bring on a silver platter: “Oh, you guys forgot to take meds this month, so we went and sent you a package. Here, sign here. Or you can even sign. Now we’ll give it”.

You have to call 50 times to remind you that you someone have something. Then you need to call the 51st time, because they definitely forgot after the previous 50. Then you call them again and remind you, because most likely, it’s a fucking assistant, and anyone he gave nothing. Then you again, then you arrive, and they, of course, forgot. In short, you should come anyway.

Then you remind them again, wait a couple of days, then they give you drugs, but it is not the medicine. You’re like, “Guys, it’s not the medicine”. They’re like, “Sorry, we forgot. And what you have told us.” You’re like, “Look, we called you 100500 times.” They’re like, “Oh, that was you? Well, we your order others sent. Sorry, now we’ll take it. And maybe we get other drugs shall find?” We: “No, we need these medicines”. They: “Well, I don’t know. Maybe in a month you will come?” We: “we have a month people will die. Let’s do something?” They: “Oh, you’ll die? Okay, let’s go”. You are, in short, take the medication.

Except us no one has been trained to do this, because through this process need to go through 10 times so you understand how it all works. And in every place the same. How do you know what you need band-AIDS, gloves, how to get them, so you sent them on time, so you the volunteers came to the house sent it all? It’s such a complex logistical process, and complicated is not what we need of paperwork, but that is very hard to understand how it works. Why need we, who more or less understands, and who more or less can system all this news.

I think that at some time we have just enough fuse, so the people just came for volunteers came and money at the store buying all we now get for free. And then I’ll deal, I guess.

In Nicaragua, approximately the same or there will be some features emerge that you notice? Here is getting drugs with the perception of local people of your history?

– Yes, in Nicaragua, generally tin.

– There is worse than in Guatemala, more difficult? Or so it is incorrect to compare?

It is harder, of course.


– First, because there are armed riots in the streets. When you throw the combustible mixture is always harder than when you do not throw the fuel mixture. This is the first.

Second, in Nicaragua, a very poor boundaries, which are working fine, probably, people, I think, deep down. Here we have Orthodox portal. And I said, what people are working on the Nicaraguan borders.

In short, they do everything to you was the most difficult to cross the border and go to Nicaragua. We all hung with these donations bring the pills and some syringes, but they’ll stop, ask, what, why, where they go, what they want.

In addition, in Nicaragua, more paperwork, more bureaucratic country. Be the Soviet Union, but late by 40 years, even more. In our village, in principle, much more complicated. In Guatemala we had electricity, running water. But in Nicaragua, no and no road, and drive does not. Roads are washed out, part goes along the beach. If the tide, it will not pass. In the jungle you have to go. On a normal car does not pass, the cargo will not pass. On horseback, on motorcycle and on foot. To haul building materials difficult. That is impossible. Public transport doesn’t go, nothing goes.

– And how will you carry them then? What? On motorcycles?

– No, we will build the road.

– That is, first you build a road, then will take over the hospital?

– We have architects, the same guys who built the clinic in Guatemala. They actually will be built. First to plan and build a Bungalow for volunteers, where they will live all the while to build the clinic. If in Guatemala, we lived in a public building, school, is built, then public buildings no. You need something to build, where to live, and yet live in tents. This is a more extreme situation.

In Guatemala we are in the mountains, there are a couple of types of snakes, a couple of species of Scorpions. In Nicaragua, all crawling, all moving. You throw a stick and you’ve got something crawling immediately. So what is there to live in tents not much fun. Therefore, while they are to lay out, to build a road, not asphalt or concrete road, and pour the gravel, dub graders, to cut down the jungle and stuff to hold the road more or less adequate, in parallel with this we are going to do something already in construction. There are a lot of guys.

You do not need anyone to teach life

Guatemala was probably some confusion or misunderstanding because of the differences in cultural codes, when modern medicine was faced with the age-old traditions.

– If to speak in General terms, I think we must all be friends and not have to fight anyone. This is my principled position.

Yes, in Guatemala there are shamans, midwives local. You need to be friends with all and everything. And here’s a secret for all: no need to teach anyone life, do not need to tell anyone that they are wrong. You need to be smarter and to negotiate with everyone, with all to communicate. And if a person comes to you and says, “Hey, I was a shaman, but did not work, and I come to you”, you don’t need to tell him that he’s an idiot, and that he wouldn’t do that.

You say, “Now we will help you. Now we will make so that the treatment of the shaman’s working”.

You give him paracetamol to get him there that is not sick. You have to be smarter, you have to be smarter. You need to be more plastic.

– About Nicaragua you already know something in this regard? About shamanism, about midwives? There about the same everything?

Well, in Nicaragua, where we on the coast, actually more than adequate population. Everyone loves herbal medicine: herbs to brew, to make, something. Unfortunately, it is everywhere in the world love. Or fortunately, I don’t know. Cool, I am also a sage rinse a throat when it hurts, or Daisy ass baby you can wash away, and nothing bad will happen. But when people start to treat diabetes or high blood pressure these herbs, they usually just die during that as trying to be treated.

And most interesting is that they spend a lot of money to buy all these teas. Because usually start with cheap, and end up large sums of money. And normal medication is the.

I say, we’re not here to completely change life philosophy and way of life of people. We in order to do what is in our power: and to speak and to try to teach and treat people and try to tell you why that happens. But it’s hard, and it’s not one year and more than one decade of work, that’s why we are such a long project. We are not a one day project, not these guys who came and went. We are forever and we will not deweese. We will constantly change the perception of our medicine and try to make people understand what is going on.

You had defeats, losses?

– Of course. I have more defeats than successes.

– What is the most painful?

Well, I have a lot of patients died. A lot of people who could help in the conditions of the Guatemalan medicine, and a huge number of people that could help, but they didn’t have the money to go to the hospital, I had no money to pay for them because we don’t get paid, unfortunately. I have long not received. It was not possible for someone to drop off. People need to have a car to drive.

People are very hard to understand how it all works. When you can’t imagine what you called the ambulance, and the ambulance never came. I from Ufa, at us such does not happen. I called the ambulance and she came through for 3-5 minutes. If 15 minutes, I was upset that for a long time. Such that you don’t have a phone, people can not imagine.

Now imagine that you even maybe have a phone, but you don’t know the numbers, and how to call, I don’t know. Or give you the medicine that you need to take hours, and you do not know how the time on the clock to determine hours or you have not. Or do you need to get up during the night to measure the child’s temperature to see if he needed medication to give or not, but you have no light, no thermometer, and your husband gives you a slap for what you actually got up, and the night has other plans. And now imagine the situation in and out, how we do everything is cool.

Still very hard to persuade people to go to the hospital because they don’t want. The Maya also discrimination. It’s like we have: do you live in the Dorm with the Uzbeks, or who are particularly disadvantaged backgrounds, and they have no one, for example, health insurance. And yet none of them are in Russian do not speak, and they’re like, “I Went to the hospital.” And they’re like, “Oh, where will I go? Now I deployed. I have no policy, I can not explain them. And they do I do not think a man. I’m such a humiliation can not. I’m not going anywhere”.

And now imagine our job when no one wants to go to the hospital because we work with the indigenous Maya. And they were like, “We’re not going anywhere. They last time over us bellow. Last time they turned us away. Last time I went to the hospital 8 hours, they arrived, and I launched back. I left, I did nothing. My baby died. I’m not going to the hospital.”

And here you have a person who needs to do an appy. You can’t do in the clinic, because we have no General anesthesia, no anesthesiologist. And you’re like: “Guys, you have to go to the hospital.” They were like, “We won’t go” and go. And you then live with it.

It’s not 100%, of course, you persuade. Some people go. Some you promise that there will be your friend. We all know they all know me. Me at all I’m afraid. I can not refuse in any hospital. I was like, “You will be treated. Will not heal, I will kill you all.” So you’re coming with me. But if someone else less experienced, less rigid, less who puts these forces in persuasion, but people refuse and do not go. People are afraid, they can understand.

I understand 100% why this is happening. Because you are not human. It is very difficult then to take and to convince yourself that this time will be different.

It is very easy for you and killed accidentally

When you arrive in Moscow, don’t you hate people focus on other issues? When you realize that actually they have everything, and they are worried about the latest phone model? Or here you too relaxed?

– I do very little which is annoying. A few things, so to speak, can ruffle. I try to people not to judge: everyone has their own life, and everyone lives as he wants. And so I was very upset when I or we begin to say that we all need someone and how we should do it right. I think that all people can and should do what they want and what they like, what gives pleasure.

– You mean the questions, “why do you not treat in Russia, and going nowhere”?

Yes. “Why not in Russia? And why aren’t you doing so? Why don’t you get that?” People have very little idea about the charity, how they work in General, the global charitable organization, private, small funds, large funds in Russia, not in Russia. The majority judgment of people consists of the fact that they once heard somewhere, sometime, someone said somewhere.

Yes, we have a lot of: “why not in Russia? Why don’t you just ask for large donations? Why don’t you write to the Red Cross? And why didn’t you go in “Doctors without borders”? Write to the President! Why Guatemala does not help you? Tell them to just go to work. Why treat black people? Just get married. In General, you are all stupid. You’re just fat and stupid. You just to do nothing.”

And about the fact that in Russia we have all fixated on something else, Yes, it is objective. You see, we are very different. It is easy to say: “You think everything is about iPhone and not think of the poor children in Guatemala.” But you can also more narrowly to say, “You collect millions for one child, but it could cure all of Guatemala. You could have clinics like ours to build 10 more, and we would treat with that money”. So, too, you might say.

But all is measured not by the number. I try not to tell anyone how things should be, how what the charity is good, which is not good.

And about people who are fixated on something more mundane… Now I’m pretentious thing to say, but I think that we all have different level. You know, there are levels of Maslow’s pyramid, is slightly more extended when you at some point want you to have something to eat; at some point you wish you had a place to sleep. You want to find a better apartment, buying a car, not on the subway ride. Then you want the phone. And somewhere in the end when you are completely satisfied with their personal life, career, anything you want to do something else. Many have never in my life this will not happen. And not reached, and will not come, and will not go there.

And there are some small group of people who have this pyramid is shifted as it moved. For us it was important to help someone than the new iPhone. And someone goes through all these stages, satisfied and helps. We have many sponsors that satisfied everyone, and we are their last paragraph that they complete. And I think it’s very cool. I would, in fact, wanted to be the kind of person who is all of satisfied and now engaged in charity because one can afford it. But there are not very many, and I hope there will be more.

We are developing, the country is growing. In Russia, everything is perfect. I am in Moscow now. I just go and think that Moscow is the best city in the world, and Russia is the best country in the world, because it is so cool here, so at all great.

I am very much where she lived, very much where he was, and if I had a choice, where I live, of course, exactly in Russia would remain. From the point of view of comfort, from the point of view of what’s really going on here, I’d not even thought of. I do not understand why all the people are suffering?

A shock to me how there is another level of suffering in General: “I enrolled in an electronic queue in the clinic and still had to wait 5 minutes. Everything is bad”, “I made the tooth and the filling turned out to be 2 shades darker than we had agreed”, “This sauce is bad reflects my personality. I want to change the meat. I don’t like”, “This paste for sensitive teeth, cap a different shape. I can’t do that. How can you live?” Yes, the problems are of a different size, but I think we all have them. People like to suffer. No one else can and I can not forbid anyone to suffer. Let him suffer, just like.

– What are you afraid of?

– I am very much afraid to die. I this year do not die because I have a wedding, the wedding is in a week and ambitious plans to life. We have a project in Nicaragua. After that, we’ll probably take another project. We offer abandoned hospital in the jungle to take care of. We plan to adopt children. Really don’t want to die. Everything that we do is very risky, and risks are enormous.

In a village in Nicaragua, where we will build, smugglers carry seafood, and occasionally kill them. I understand that it is to us weak, but there is General excitement in Nicaragua. It is very easy for you and killed accidentally. There we have all sorts of these fevers: dengue, zika, malaria. To die from malaria, of course, difficult in the modern world, but it is possible.

I was recently stung by a jellyfish, and I almost died. I’m allergic to jellyfish, as it turned out, and I almost died right there. And no one will help because someone is a doctor, if not you? Therefore, dangerous. I’m afraid that Karina is going to die or my boyfriend Andrew. I really wouldn’t want them dead, because that would be very sad.

Victoria groom

About the project I’m not scared. Yes, we may fail, this project might not work, but it’s not the end of the world. Did not work here – we went to find another place. It’s hard, it costs time, our volunteers arrived, they are waiting, but it’s not the end of the world. You can always fix it. With the death more difficult. So that’s it.

Photo: Viktoria Valikova / VK

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