Unpacking Day – The team arrives in El Salvador

In a previous post, I told you about the packing day, the final preparation for the Mission team before departing for El Salvador.  On the designated Saturday, after several hours of travel, the team arrives at the San Salvador airport.  Walking off the plane, the first thing you notice is the heat. This is especially noticeable considering the team boarding the plane in the middle of the winter.  This is a good thing.  After paying the tourist fee, getting the passports stamp and the several bags of luggage through customs, the team meets the welcoming committee of Dr Daniella, Dr Roberto and some of her team. The bags are loaded into pickups and people are loaded into the buses and after a 45-minute ride, the team arrives at San Juan, the Missions home away from home in El Salvador.

Waiting for the team at San Juan is the early team, a small part of the team that arrived in San Salvador three days before. The early team setups San Juan for the upcoming Mission.  Each area is set up for pharmacy, central supply, dental, vision and village gifts.  Supplies needed for the week are purchased and the final details for the team are completed. 

To minimize the confusion of thirty people unpacking 30 or more bags, an area is setup for the luggage to be unloaded.  Another area is set up for the distribution of all the items in those bags.  This area is a covered circle with a wall around the perimeter. Tables are set up in the middle.  The tables and the sections of the wall have empty bags on them for each areas of the Mission; Dental, Vision, Village Gifts and Central Supply.

After a quick lunch and a few minutes of showing the new people the “highlights” of San Juan such as where each area is (i.e. pharmacy or central supply) and more importantly where the bano is located, it’s time to unpack. After a few minutes of instructions on how this will be done, everyone grabs a bag and starts unpack and distributing each item into the appropriate section.  Soon the dental bags are filling up with toothpaste and toothbrushes and vision bags are filling up with glasses and readers.  Over the counter medicines are placed in the pharmacy section, flip flops and coloring books are overflowing in village gifts and all sorts of medical supplies are overflowing in central supply.  As a bag is filled it is brought to its assigned area and another bag is put into its place.  All this is done in what seems to be a fury of active but before we know it all the bags are unpacked and put into their assigned areas.

The team splits up into their assigned area and begin to organize and start getting things ready for the week.  This includes counting pills and filling the bottles for the pharmacy. After an hour or so, dinner is ready for us. After dinner and a quick meeting about the next couple of days, it’s on to the Hotel to check in and unwind.  After all there is a lot more to do before the team is ready to visit the villages.

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