I was fortunate to go on a medical mission trip for two weeks earlier this year. Here are some of my thoughts on this life changing experience.
Guatemala, and this medical mission, has been transformational for me. I’m gently reminded of what is important, and I’m savoring the opportunity to glimpse another world, far from Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial, fast-paced, sometimes chaotic lifestyle.
We arrived in Guatemala to a cacophony of sounds, sirens blaring, motorcyclists screeching through the streets, live musicians, bright colors dotting the landscape, and the scent of freshly cooked street food teasing the senses.
A police escort to our clinic, on the first morning, revealed dozens of hopeful parents, and children, who had lined up though-out the night to be evaluated, and hopefully approved for surgery. This was the first of many tearjerker moments – walking into the clinic with all of these shining, grateful faces with hopeful, welcoming smiles.
Cleft lip and palate surgery was the most common affliction, and our team of top-notch plastic surgeons was ready to take on the challenge. Keeping in mind, that to talk, swallow, eat, drink, or simply kiss a loved one is virtually impossible with this anomaly. The wonderful thing with our delegation was that the surgical team, of highly trained professionals, also spent time training medical staff on the ground to perform surgeries, effectively leaving a lifetime legacy. Families travelled from places far and near to explore the possibility of getting a child this life changing surgery.
Seeing life through a different lens, getting insights into another culture, another people, is interesting to observe and reflect on. All kinds of questions come up. Why am I here? What is important? How can I contribute? The big takeaway – as humans we are all fundamentally the same, we all want to be loved and cared for, and we all love our children the same, and would move heaven and earth for them…