Trip Report – Emily Hwang
After having a long desire to partake in medical missionary work, I was blessed to come across Surgical Volunteers International. The director, Thomas Flood, was kind enough to acquaint me through many phone calls and emails of what was to be expected and the caseload. After several anxious months of preparation, my first mission trip was in June of 2009 to Port Au Prince, Haiti, which was accomplished in partnership with Smile Train. Our team consisted of volunteers from Texas, Illinois, New York, Germany, and a few local Haitians. The cases included cleft lip and palate repair, burn scar reconstruction, and a hand and foot case. All of the patients fortunately did well without any complications. I do not know how to begin in describing the daily greetings of numerous patients and their families needing surgical treatment, the patient screenings, the dynamic setup of the operating room, and the impediments of existing equipment, the limited medical resources, and the many volunteers wanting to assist and learn from us. Everyone present was a constant delight and sought to love and unite each other, through this whole hearted free service to those who were undoubtedly in need. Further, this was truly a phenomenal experience of the Haitian culture, society, and struggles for survival. Our team even got to visit the Missionaries of Charity and was welcomed into two local orphanages. I felt that this trip has rewarded me immensely spiritually, emotionally, and professionally. In addition, many medical volunteers were reunited, as well as many new friends made. Above all else, the strong respect, trust, universal love and compassion, and collaborative dynamic between the team members were incredible. Each individual exuded a conduct governed by good judgment, flexibility, and a consideration of fellow team players, all serving a joint purpose which drew us all together. Since returning from Haiti, I am utterly convinced that these mission trips are a most beautiful experience and have committed myself to the duty. I must emphasize the gratitude and appreciation that I have for all those who have also been blessed to partake in such an opportunity. The greatest service that we can provide to humanity is giving care to those in most need and to defy human suffering, with a consideration for safety and efficiency of patient care. This can become a means to greater love and a greater generosity. Without any hesitation, I certainly long for my next visit and future trips and assured that a call is clearly heard and meant to be answered.
Yoo Eun Emily Hwang
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
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