Volunteering on a mission with the World Surgical Foundation has turned out to be more of a life changing experience than I could have ever even imagined. When we arrived, despite red-eye flight exhaustion, we came en mass to the Dr. Mario Catarino Rivas Hospital and hit the ground running. With the volunteer surgeons doing consultations and the nurses and support staff (myself included) setting up the stock room.
My first encounter as I walked through the doors, armed with my spanglish abilities, was being approached by a woman in tears with a picture of a her beautiful ten-year-old daughter who is completely paralyzed on the left side. I wish I could fix her myself, but with confidence I told her to go to the clinic and in my heart knew that somehow WSF would help her. I saw so many people who will finally get the help they need, at no cost, with nothing but the hearts of the WSF staff. The surgeons saw patients for hours and scheduled as many patients as possible.
Now we are ready for the first day of surgery on Monday. Invigorated, exhausted, excited and emotional are the words to sum up the day for me. I would be remiss not to mention the fact the these surgeons are bringing their gifts to change the lives of as many people as possible out of the goodness of their hearts at their own cost. I am a habitual volunteer and have never felt the work I’m participating in is going to actually make a difference. Sometimes I volunteer and spin in circles trying to give food to a homeless drug addict who declines my offer of a meal wanting only money. Here, a child with a terrible cleft lip is going to have an infinitely talented plastic surgeon repair it and the gratitude is palpable.