What exactly will be my role in our medical trip to Uganda this April? That is a thought familiar to me from when I went on a previous medical mission trip to repair cleft lips/palates in Indonesia some Aprils ago. I know I want to help. I know I can help. What is not always clear before your arrive, is what is most needed at the destined site. There routinely seem to be surprises in these situations and without fail, the need shows itself on a daily basis.
While in Indonesia, the need quickly became evident as our tightly woven days became longer as more and more patients were in need of services we could offer. It was not uncommon that the least amount of time we had between any 2 meals was the abbreviated time between dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast. Generators on standby to keep the OR running as long as possible past dark; medical staff trading off to keep the support flow going; surgical team members assessing, repairing, and teaching, to help as many children and local providers as possible in our tiny grateful village.
Going to an area not yet visited by such a traveling medical clinic presents a challenge in arrangements, supplies, and complex details. We are very fortunate to have Liz Wood, as our organizing leader, in addition to a group of dedicated civic and medically minded volunteers –getting their paperwork in order, immunizations obtained, and dollars spent to make this trip a reality. All understanding that one of the biggest “knowns” we can be sure of is that there will be a lot “unknowns” in our commitment to this service. But we also know, the rewards are not small. We can take part in changing the lives of many through individual surgeries, providing services/equipment not previously available, and assisting the community with further medical education. It is a win:win arrangement of which I am proud to be a part.