When I went on the Mission of Miracles trip for the first time in 2013, I was just as nervous as I was excited. I had no clue what to expect, having never done something like this before and not knowing anybody except for my mom. Luckily, the group of people who attend this trip are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. From day one they made me feel welcome and comfortable in this unfamiliar environment.
It is hard to describe the experience we have on the Mission of Miracles trip. When I came back, my family, friends, classmates, and professors asked me to tell them about it. I had no idea where to start or how to describe the experiences I had. It is so eye opening and humbling to see how the people of El Salvador live, and how grateful they are for things that we take for granted everyday in the US.
One of the encounters I had that stuck with me is with a little girl and her mother in El Maizel. Terri and I saw her on my first trip, and she quickly took a special place in our hearts. Her mother brought her to us for a cough and a runny nose, but as we assessed her we found that she had a severe developmental delay. She was almost two years old, but was at the developmental stage of a 2 month old. Terri determined that she had cerebral palsy. I was very affected by this girl and her mother. The mother was doing everything she could to help her daughter, including taking her to developmental center every 8 days and doing stretches to help her stiff muscles at home. It was inspiring to see such great care being taken even when they had so few resources, but it was hard to accept that she was getting much less care than we would be able to give her at home.
Terri and I were lucky enough to see this patient again this year. Although they did not initially come to see us, Terri happened to see someone who looked like the mother across the street. When we walked over, we saw the mother, father, sister, and the little girl who we had been hoping to see. She is almost three now, and looked like she had improved so much from the past year! We found out that her mom is still bringing her to a developmental center (although not frequently) and we were able to bring her into the clinic and test her for anemia, give her vitamins with iron, treat her for an infection, and give her mother diapers and supplements for her daughter, as well as refer her to our nutritionist to help teach them the best diet for her.
Her mom was so thankful when they were leaving that she started crying and hugged us. This was a really touching experience to have made as much of an effect on her as they had on us. One of the best parts of seeing them again was that we were able to see how the father interacted with the child. We did not see him the first year, and were unsure of if he accepted her condition. Seeing him with her this year, though, we saw how caring and loving he was. He was playing with her and making her laugh the entire time we were there. Her parents assured us that they would continue to follow up with Dr. Daniella.
I am so lucky to have been able to experience the Mission of Miracles trip for the past two years. It has been a life changing experience, and has assured me over and over again that I made the right choice in studying to become an RN. Being able to help so many people was great, and they have taught me so much more than I could have expected. The people I have met will stay with me forever. I’m counting down the days until the next trip!!