The language barrier was the first of my concerns, mainly because I didn’t know if I could help people without being able to communicate with them. I’m rather glad we did the soup kitchens and orphanage trip before the clinics because it gave me time to grow. My team members helped to teach me how to say a few simple phrases. They even offered to translate on more than one occasion. The first week gave me courage and confidence to fulfill my responsibilities.
I will forever remember how one lady at the first soup kitchen (5 hour bus ride) held onto my arm. The thankfulness and gratitude in her eyes were heartwarming and inspiring. I’ve always had my heart set on immunology/pathology, but honestly any role in medicine that could reproduce that moment is enough for me. That moment also provided me with reassurance, that I didn’t need to know the spoken language to help these people. Those moments of silence and facial expressions are more than enough to communicate gratitude and respect.
Talking with locals was another reason why the pre-clinic days were so enlightening. I really began to understand the situations that people lived in, and the hardships that they faced on the daily. Families were more than willing to stand in long lines at soup kitchens in order to provide for their sick kin. Our efficiency in whatever job we held was crucial to easing their stress and providing quick relief.
It became relevant to ensure that each patient seen must be treated in a kind and respectful way. It was our responsibility to create trust and distribute care to those in need. Even though I’m sure most patients couldn’t understand what I was saying, I believed it was important to act out what I was going to do. It was my understanding that this would help ease their worries before each glucose finger prick.
I have never had clinical experience prior to this trip that involved direct participation in patient care. I must say that it is truly a rewarding experience to be able to offer medical services for once. It really helps to renew your motivation to continue your pathway onto medical careers. I can’t express my gratitude enough to VnHope Alliance for allowing me the honor to serve among health care professionals. I wish you the best on your future expeditions and hope to return to help again.