Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rotation Two Volunteers Complete Work

It hardly seems possible that more than six weeks have passed aboard the Comfort. It seems like all one day. As we steam for the liberty port in Cartagena, we all can look back, with pride and humility, on the opportunity we’ve had to provide quality health care and education, and hope, to the tens of thousands of people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and on the beautiful islands of Antigua & Barbuda. The numbers speak for themselves—and when you break them out by categories they’re staggering, with new records being set every day during the last week before we “pulled the hook” in St. John’s Harbour. Before we arrived, many of us were wondering why we were even going there, since it’s not a country one thinks of as being underserved. We were anxious about how we’d be received because of rumors—which were not wholly unfounded—that we might not be able to do any surgeries on the ship for a variety of political reasons. What we found turned out to be quite the opposite. The government officials and local doctors and nurses warmly greeted us, and we were busier than ever, as borne out by the numbers. The operating rooms handled as many surgeries as in Haiti, and did it in one day less. The icing on the cake was that Nurses’ Week was celebrated while we were there, and this provided many opportunities to socialize with the local nurses who worked side-by-side with, and were taught by, the Comfort’s nurses. And, as always, there were many, many compelling cases of patients’ lives being changed because of the care they received. One night, to give just one example, at the customary “1900 Confirmation Brief”—the meeting that recaps the day’s events and gives us the plan for the next day—one of the doctors showed a video he made of an interview with an elderly patient. I didn’t write down her name, unfortunately, but all of us will remember her story. She had cataract surgery on both eyes, having been blind for more than five years. She expressed her gratitude for having her sight restored…and for being able to see her young grandson for the first time. There were a lot of moist eyes when the video ended.

So now we’re underway to Cartagena. Everyone’s excited about taking liberty. Even while enroute, we’re able to do some fun things that not every humanitarian volunteer gets to do. Such as, yesterday some of us got to drive the boat and go on a tour of the engine room. Anyone who thinks scullery is the hottest, dirtiest job on the ship needs to spend 30 minutes down there!

I’m not sure if I’ll have a chance to blog again from Cartagena. If I don’t, I’ll sign off now with a wish that everyone who’s reading will think about doing something for another person in need every day—even a smile counts! No matter where you are or what you do for your “day job,” you can provide someone with hope.

1 comment:

  1. We are very greatful for Project Hope & USNS Comfort coming to the shores of Antigua. We the parents of Daniel Ince will like to send special thanks to the team that helped our son. Thanks to the doctors that did the surgery (Dr. Josh & Dr.Arnaldo Rivera) & the Project Hope Team (Linda Brant,Mindy ) and everyone else.You were some of the most kind, comforting & hard-working people that we have reached in a long time.We pray God's blessings on your continued trip and individual lives & Families. We really appreciate the all sacrifice & care that you (Project Hope & USNS Comfort Team) have done for our son. We love you all!!!!!!! and much Thanks......Continue the good work, you will be rewarded!!!!!! You are helping and affecting people lives in a very positive way!!!!!

    Richard & Karen Ince.