Category: G.I.F.T. news and updates

October 2018

October 2018

Dear Project Gift Faithful Supporters and Friends

Thanks to your donations, we have had another very successful year providing necessary medical care to the needy people from the Sololá/ Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala.
We had the assistance of two nurse cliniciennes: one from Montreal and one from Paris; four young graduate doctors from Bristol, England; and several doctors from the US.


I would like to share one very touching case with you: Heidi, a 16-month-old girl, was brought to us by her mother because “she wouldn’t stop crying”. It turned out that she was a Zika virus baby with microcephaly and all the mental and physical problems often associated with this condition. The reason she was crying was from constant pain in her left hip…every time she would try to straighten her left leg she would scream. She had left hip dysplasia with nerve impingement from contracted muscles and tendons. We were instrumental in arranging a very difficult operation by a visiting American pediatric orthopaedic surgical team, operating in San Lucas Toliman, not too far away. Heidi is now able to move her hip pain free and smile while she does it.

We were there for Heidi and many, many other children and adults who needed our help.
Please continue to donate as much as possible so that we can continue to help.
Lyle Waldman, M.D., and the GIFT Team

You may continue to send cheques to Project GIFT (at the address below) or donate through Canada Helps, for which you will find the link on our website: .A tax receipt will be sent, Charity #86417-7936-RR0001

Project GIFT, 4778, Victoria Ave., Montreal, QC., H3W2N1
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G.I.F.T. Newsletter 2017

Guatemala Infant and Family Treatment




Le Traitement des Enfants et des Familles Guatémaltèques


Dear Project Gift Faithful Supporters and Friends 

Thanks to your donations, we have had another very successful year providing necessary medical services to needy people from the Sololá/ Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala.

We are now doing daily clinics at Mayan Families, from December to May. Mayan Families is a local non-profit that provides us with facilities for our clinics, free of charge. Having a “home base” has proved invaluable, as patients know where to find us; they often travel for hours on public transport to be able to see doctors and nurses from Project GIFT. 

This year we had the assistance of two nurse cliniciennes from Montreal; two nurse practitioners from Northern Quebec; a paediatrician and a general practitioner from the US; and four young graduate doctors from Bristol, England.

We are seeing more people; doing more tests; and providing financial assistance for more operations than ever before.

We cannot emphasize enough how important your support has become. We cannot provide those needed services without your help. Please continue to donate as much as possible and please spread the word.


Lyle Waldman, M.D., and the GIFT Team

You may continue to send cheques to Project GIFT (at the address below) or donate through Canada Helps, for which you will find the link on our website: A tax receipt will be sent, Charity #86417-7936-RR0001


Project GIFT, 4778, Victoria Ave., Montreal, QC., H3W2N1

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Newsletter - October 2016


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Supporters Appreciation: “You just need devotion for people”

by Juan Haro from Mayan Familes (link to original blog entry.)

The human right to health includes access to “timely, acceptable, and affordable health care of appropriate quality” according to the WHO. In Guatemala, approximately 49% of children are chronically malnourished. This is the fourth highest rate in the world; and in indigenous communities the rate is closer to 70%.

For Dr. Lyle Waldman, these are just some of the issues that represent why he has spent years dedicated to providing medical assistance to those who need it most.  Originally from Montreal, Canada,, Dr. Lyle saw the great need and at the same time was charmed by the region of rural Guatemala.  He is an admirable  example of what it’s like to be entirely devoted to making a difference. He and his wife, Andrea Waldman, have been volunteering for several years with Mayan Families through their own NGO, G.I.F.T., providing essential health care to the indigenous Maya populations in the Lake Atitlán areas.

Dr Lyle at work

Photo credit: Brendan James

Today is yet another day at the Panajachel-based Charlie Gómez Clinic and you can see Dr. Lyle coming and going with his indispensable cup of Guatemalan coffee. It is one more day he is ready to provide medical consultations to those who otherwise would not have any resources to pay any medical or health care. The line of young women, mothers, children and elderly people grows waiting their turn outside the clinic door. In fact, he had been so busy that we had to wait until his last day with us for me to learn more about his work in the clinic. The conversation is comfortable and his wife joins us in the clinic. 

Dr. Lyle, tell me about your story since the beginning. What motivated you and your wife to come to Guatemala and work with the indigenous people?

Everything started 15 years ago, when we come to Guatemala to travel. One night having dinner, we met a Canadian couple who had done clinics here, we were talking and I knew that is something I would like to do’.

A few months later an evangelical medical  group that was coming from Canada needed a doctor to help another three nurses to work in Guatemala. I was working in my office in Montreal and they asked me to come and volunteer. I remember I was sitting in front of my computer, my wife Andrea was going to retire from teaching in Montreal and I said, Andrea, I am coming back to Guatemala.” We sold our house in Montreal and we started working with patients And basically this is how all started, working in Cobán with no electricity. It was fantastic!(Laughs). I realized people here really need help, we wanted to make a change. To this day, we have never regretted it!

Tell us how is the daily routine at the clinic?

Andrea from G.I.F.T. interviewed

Photo credit: Brendan James

I started working 3 days a week and Monday has been the busiest day. When I started, people began to come from villages all across the lake. One of the best aspects of having a clinic in Mayan Families is that my patients can have access to a follow up on their diagnostic. I receive lots of patients in  bad situations, normally because of their financial issues. They  don’t  have enough  money  for  the transport, so lots of them come here by foot from El Tablon or Tierra Linda (8 miles away). Sometimes we have to send someone to assist them in special cases, because they don’t have the 5 Q ($0.6USD) for a tuk-tuk to come to the clinic. They don’t  have  any  doctors  in  their own  towns  and what happens frequently is that they go to the doctor, they pay 20Q ($2.6USD) for the visit, then they go to the pharmacy and need to pay 300Q ($39 USD) or probably more. Finally, the patients come to my office one month later and tell me “Doctor, I can’t pay the medication…”

How does the public health work in Guatemala? Can people here go to the hospital and be treated?

Well, you can go the hospital…but you won’t get anything. Sometimes the people go to Sololá and, if they attend them, what occurs is that very often they don’t have the medication or don’t have the oxygen. One time I went with one little boy who has pneumonia and he had to go to Xela (51 miles from Sololá) because they didn’t have any medication for him in Sololá. He had to go to Xela, get the medication, bring it back and then be assisted in Sololá.

Another time one girl was badly injured in the head, she went to the hospital in Sololá and she was unconscious for hours because they didn’t have the machine to scan her. Then she woke up and was sent to Xela to see if she had blood in her brain; she was operated in Xela. Afterwards the social service was dealing with the family, because the normal price for a scan is 1200Q ($ 156 USD) and we collected that money and paid for them because they didn’t have any money! At the end, It’s really difficult for them to have access healthcare here. Examples like these ones are endless…

What you have learned from these years providing, not only medical support, but help and humanitarian relief within Mayan Families?

After working for years as doctor in Montreal, how would you describe the experience of treating indigenous Guatemalans who don’t speak your language and come from a different culture than yours?

Completely different, totally different, here we have to do everything. First of all, the traditions.

You have to understand what their religion means to them. Sometimes they say or explain things that mean different things to me or I am not used to hearing it. Another thing, they don’t look at symptoms on the Internet and come to you with the diagnosis (laughs).

Lot of indigenous people here know already what they may have but they don’t how to treat themselves.

 Dr Lyle and Andrea

Photo credit: Brendan James

I am impressed with your story…

Well, It’s not difficult to do what we have done. You just need to have the desire to do something useful with your time, you need devotion for people.

Peoples as Doctor Lyle encourage us to keep helping impoverished populations in rural Guatemala. Thanks Doctor.

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Update 2015, 4 year old Suzeli

4 year old Suzeli fell down a flight of steps and landed on her head. She fractured her skull and bled into her brain.
GiFT group paid for her brain scan and subsequent surgery. she is now recuperating at home.


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Update - October, 2012

Guatemalan Infant and Family Treatment


October, 2012

To all of our supporters and friends,

2012 was our 10th year of conducting medical clinics in the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala.

Every year, hundreds of Indigenous people receive life-changing medical consults, operations, and other treatments through our ambulant medical clinics and rapid referral system.

G.I.F.T. provides financial support for doctors services, laboratory tests, X-rays, scans, MRI’s, specialists’ consultations, treatments, and private surgeries when needed.

image003This year we would like to thank Catherine McHugh, a final year medical student from Perth, Australia; Julie Arsenault, a nurse practitioner from Les Îles de la Madeleine; Julio Marroquin, a nurse practitioner from Tasiujaq, Quebec; Esteban Pablo, our faithful driver and Kaqchikel, Tz’utujil, Spanish, English translator; Moises Paulino Cutz Toc and the group Xocomil who organize our clinics and make sure they run smoothly; Dr Juan Pablo Escobar and his wife Dra Claudina Escobar and the staff at the “hospitalito” in Panajachel; and Jose Antonio Perez from Senderos de Maiz, who follows and provides for treatment of several handicapped patients.

Some cases really stand out:
Francisca, a 28 year old mother of one, was diagnosed by us last year with severe hyperthyroidism. Many months of medical treatments were completely unsuccessful and resulted in her illness progressing until her life was at stake. After one year and many specialists’ consults, we were finally able to obtain treatment for Francisca with Radioactive Iodine. The Iodine, not available in Guatemala, had to be imported from abroad. She responded well to the treatment and seems to be on the road to a full recovery.

image004Selvin, a 6 year old boy with bilateral hip dysplasia, was operated 3 times, bed confined with a cast for over a year, and is now finishing physiotherapy. His walking is steadily improving and he will be able to attend school, like any other boy his age, in January 2013
Wendy, our 10 year old girl with rheumatoid arthritis, is no longer in a wheelchair and is attending school as a normal student.

Thanks to your help we are able to supply the necessary treatments to patients like Francisca, Selvin, Wendy and many others.

Please keep supporting our work - you are truly making a difference in people’s lives.
We cannot continue without you.
Lyle Waldman, on behalf of the board of G.I.F.T.

Lyle Waldman, M.D., President
David Rosentzveig, Secretary
Gretchen Martin

Andrée Waldman, Treasurer
Marie Françoise Jothy.
Martin Simek

Donations can be sent to:

Project GIFT
4778 Victoria Ave, Montreal QC., H3W 2N1
Or through our website

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A happy ending!

A happy ending

Reina, a local hairdresser in her early 50's, had prostheses put in both hips 6 years ago.

The left prosthesis was a catastrophe-it was too large for her hip and femur-so she fractured both as soon as she tried to walk.

The surgeon refused to take any responsibility and re-do the operation. She has been handicapped and in constant pain for the past 5 years.

We decided she needed our help.

So 2 months ago Project G.I.F.T. had her operated.

For the first time in 5 years she is pain-free.

She will be starting physiotherapy soon and will hopefully be able to start working again.

She and her family are so grateful.

"I feel I have a new life"

Here she is-finally able to smile.



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A very interesting case


A very interesting case:

Francesca, a 24 year old married woman, came in complaining of trembling, sweaty extremities, amenorrhea, no appetite, and a 35 lb weight loss- over a period of a little more than a year. Her husband also told us that he thought her eyes were "bigger than before".

This young couple had tried to find help-visiting several doctors and even going to Guatemala City to a large hospital for investigation. She was told that she had "nervios"(nerves),and was given the usual placebo injections.

Her hyperthyroidism was so obvious to all of us.

Daniela (our midwife nurse),Frances( a physician's assistant from the States) and myself  couldn't understand how so many health professionals could miss this.

We sent Francesca for blood tests which proved our suspicions and she is now on the road to recovery with the proper treatment.

Helping people like Francesca is why we are here.

Dr Lyle

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