Being in college, we are often asked the question of what we want to do when we “grow up,” and sometimes that question is followed up with a bigger question of why we want to do it. I’ve always responded with the classic “I like to help people” reply when I was asked. As a kid I grew up going to speech therapy, surgeries, and doctor appointments because I was born with a cleft lip and palate. The care that my doctors and therapists showed really made an impact on me. I was encouraged by the kindness they showed me, but I was further impressed when I watched my doctors and speech therapists go on medical mission trips to developing countries.
In the spring of 2013 I looked into the next Legacy of Healing trip to Honduras, and I signed up to be a student volunteer. A few weeks later, I made it to Tegucigalpa safely, even with it being the shortest runway and scariest landing of my life. We stayed in the city and drove 40 minutes every day up the mountain to the hospital, which brought about the opportunity to see the vast differences between the city and the rural areas.
Each day, the group split into three teams: clinic, surgery, and the water team. The water team worked on improving the function and capacity of the dams for the towns near the hospital. The clinic team traveled to a new village every day and set up a clinic for free medical care, medicine, dentist checkups, and hygiene education for kids. The surgery team traveled to the hospital every day and performed minor surgeries. At the beginning of the week I helped systemize the intake of patients at the clinic. I also helped with the children’s program and assisted in the surgery rooms.
By the end of the trip the clinic team visited 4 villages and treated about 715 patients total, and the surgery team completed about 210 procedures. The water team, which was the smallest, had fixed and improved 2 dams that served 3 villages of about 3000 people. This was a huge accomplishment considering the limited amount of clean water that was originally available. Overall, it was an incredible experience! Even with language barriers and cultural differences, they were so kind and welcoming we had no difficulties. Also being able to witness the efficiency and be a part of the medical team was very encouraging and educational for me and all the students as we continue our pursuing our careers.
For those who are considering pursuing a trip or work like this, I want to encourage you to do so! Look for opportunities to start your career early, gain experience, and learn new things. Now is the time, before we “grow up,” to explore new paths and maybe even discover new reasons of why you’re going in the direction you’re going. Good luck!
*Jordan used her LTE grant to fund service in Honduras.