Thursday, October 12, 2017
An outreach trip for Isabelle Parekh to Guatemala with her father and brother that begins today created a unique opportunity for a group of young ladies from the 2006-B Spokane Sounders to make a long-distance connection with some of their less fortunate Central American peers.
A week ago the girls got together to learn about Izzy's trip with her dad, who will be assisting a surgical team. They had collected soccer balls, shoes and shin guards for the Parekhs to take with them to share the love of the game with boys and girls in the area. The girls shared their well wishes via notes on cards and on the balls.
"Our girls wrote notes and words of encouragement to be passed along as well," said Kristie Speir, the team's manager. "It was truly a wonderful experience for our team to learn more about an underprivileged part of the world and how they can help. They were very excited to pass along the Sounders spirit and our mutual love for the game."
Though the nation is one of the largest in Central America, its economy is among the poorest in Latin America, making soccer supplies a rarity for some communities that often don't have even the basic necessities in life.
The Parekhs are headed to Zacapa, Guatemala for a 10-day stint with Hearts in Motion, a non-profit based in Indiana that has had a presence in Guatemala for over 35 years. The organization mainly focuses on the southern Guatemala district of Zacapa, which is one of the most impoverished regions in Central America.
Shyam Parekh is a cardiac anesthesiologist with Anesthesia Associates of Spokane, where he does a general mix of non-cardiac and cardiac cases. He will be one of two anesthesiologists on the trip caring for many patients undergoing general and orthopedic surgery.
"This is my first medical mission. After passing on several opportunities in the past because my kids were too young, this mission unexpectedly popped up this summer when two of my general surgery friends, Dr. Matt Rawlins [whose daughter Elena plays for the Sounders 2003-A team] and Dr. Jon Spitz, asked me if I'd like to go down to Guatemala with them in October to help as many people as we could with debilitating but surgically correctable medical conditions," said Dr. Parekh.
"Now that my older two kids, Lucas and Isabelle, are 14 and 11, respectively, I knew it was time to go help people who simply don't have access to care. Lucas and Isabelle will help with the clinics and with community projects while we're in the operating room.
One of those projects Izzy, Lucas and Dr. Rawlins' two daughters will be doing is sharing of relief items collected. She and Lucas also collected items at school (St. George's) to help provide, in particular, much-needed footwear for the children of Zacapa to help alleviate foot ailments in children who don't have the basic foot protection provided by shoes.
And on top of those efforts, Izzy's team came together to provide something a little extra for soccer-loving kids of Zacapa "who love playing fútbol even though they may lack even a real ball."
Maybe a new ball or equipment accompanied by a word of encouragement from a friend thousands of miles away will help inspire one of the players Izzy meets to eventually help lead Guatemala to it's first-ever World Cup appearance 10 years from now! More importantly, though, the gear and kind words will absolutely brighten the day for some kids for many weeks to come.
One more thing is for sure, her teammates are excited to hear about Izzy's adventures when she returns.
“I’m so glad Izzy and her family have this opportunity and told us about it," said teammate Mia Speir. "I hope kids the kids in Guatemala are able to have fun playing soccer with all the things we are sending down! I will miss Izzy while she is gone but can’t wait to hear about her trip!”