I had been working in a Neuro Intensive care unit when I was approached by a family physician and asked if I would be interested in doing a Medical Mission to Honduras. Just being asked sparked something inside of me. I told the doctor I had never done any kind of volunteer work in my life. At that point he told me being bilingual and a nurse would be a great asset, to please consider it and he handed me the information. I briefly read through the hand out and I felt that was something I needed to do. I had a couple of months to prepare for the trip, so I immediately asked my supervisor for the time off. She replied, “No, that’s not possible as we are already short of staff.” I went home at the end of that shift and left it in God’s hands. I wrote three request to my supervisor. The vacation time request, a leave of absence and a resignation. The following day I left the three request o my supervisor’s desk and asked her to sign the one she wishes. The next person to make a request to was my mother. “Would you please watch my two boys for two weeks while I serve the underprivileged?” Her answer was, “No” and in addition I was told, “I was crazy, what mother would leave their boys to go to a country full of diseases, malaria, cholera, etc. I left a under-developed country to raise you better and you want to return to that, you are more than crazy.” Again, I left it in God’s hands.
Three months later, I was in San Pedro Sula, Honduras helping set up a clinic in a local school with examining rooms, small pharmacy and dental equipment. I did not see the end of line where people were waiting to be seen. Suddenly, I was asked to triage into the crowd and bring forward the ones that looked the most ill. After traveling for three days for medical attention, no one smelled or looked good. The children where wrapped in swaddle and when I uncovered some the diseases and skin disorders poured out. Some did not appear to have life, for they were limb, cyanotic and bearly breathing with parents clinging desperately to have them saved. I am strong, I thought, but who goes first . And they thought I was a physician. “Por favor, mi hijo esta muy enfermo.” I am not the doctor, he waits for you in the building I could hardly see from the distance. The line didn’t seem to end. I handed out numbers and returned to the building. I was nauseous, however, a child pulling my arm did vomit and the emesis was mobile with parasites. My eyes burned from suppressing the tears and my stomach was a knot. I refused to become a patient myself. After assisting with the exams and translating for an hour the crowd seem to blend in. Everyone had the same name, everyone looked the same and everyone almost had the same problems. So, it became an assembly line. Look, listen and feel. Now take these pills three times a day till they are all finished. Thank you and my God please you was the response, with a toothless smile of gratitude.
The two weeks were over quickly. What did I walk away with, did it change my life, am I a better healthcare professional, what did I gain and most of all how did I make a difference? Upon my return, I still had a job. My boys were well taken care of by my mother and I had experienced an unexplainable change. I was so thankful for the little things in life especially my sons, health and most of all my believe in a Devine Creator of all things. After that first mission I have continued to give my services yearly and with each Mission I have learned more about the impossible being possible of mankind, nature and the beauty within all creations.
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