I’m a senior at the Schechter School of Long Island! This morning we had to be up bright and early to catch the bus to the local hospital. I’ve seen things today I’ve only glimpsed at through episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. I saw a gallbladder being removed and witnessed several hernia surgeries. The best though was a polydactyly, where I watched a girl with a two toes fused together had her toe split, then the extra toe removed. I also got to hand out bubbled, stickers and stuffed animals to all the kids in the waiting room. I’m so glad I get to try out every location and experience everything. I don’t speak any Spanish at all, but it’s remarkable how much you can understand simply through body language. The people wait in the crowded, hot pre-op room for hours for the chance to change their life, whether it be through fixing burn scars or cleft palates. I’m missing AP bio back home but I’ve learned more today than I ever could in a textbook.
I am a senior at Seaford High School. This is my first mission with Blanca’s House. So far, I have done nothing but be grateful with deciding to embark in this journey. This trip has opened my eyes and taught me something I could never learn in a classroom. I witnessed child birth, a removal of a gall bladder, and the fixing of a cleft palate, and that was only the first day. It amazes me how grateful people are that we volunteer our time for them. One man smiled all day when he was cleared for his surgery. He was smiling after his surgery, too, and thanked every last one of us for what we did. I know when I get home, I am going to look at the world differently.
This year I became a sophomore at Wantagh High School. It’s new to me as well as Blanca’s House. I would consider myself lucky to be part of this medical mission and even luckier if I get invited back for another. Being a junior volunteer, I am expected to come into this completely blind; however, a few years back my older brother came along with my aunt who is a pediatrician and a huge part of Blanca’s House. He kept talking about how amazing his experience was, and he has done nothing but live up to his words. This trip has showed me the world through a different lens. It truly has opened my eyes in the greatest way possible. I walked in the hospital and the first thing I did was walk freely into a C-section surgery, and so far has been my favorite part of the trip. Right now it’s only the second day of the trip and I’ve seen more miracles here than I have in my whole life. Even just peeking in on any surgery can change your whole day. It’s so awesome to see how grateful everyone is towards us and to what we are doing to help them and their families. We are changing their lives in what seems like something so simple, but what they don’t understand is they are changing mine in unbelievable ways.
My name is Andrew Emerson, and I am a senior at Chaminade High School. Having never taken part as a member of a Blanca’s House mission, I had no idea what to expect once we arrived as well as what impact my experiences would have on me. So far, all of my experiences have taught me a tremendous amount about life in a foreign country, the healthcare system, and most importantly about myself. I was provided the opportunity to watch a procedure to remove a gallstone and one to fix a polydactyly. While they are not the most complicated or involved procedures, they are nonetheless important. In Ecuador, most people have to wait years to get even the simplest surgeries (as a result of their healthcare system). This mission’s goal is to provide the urgent care to the underserved people who do not have access to healthcare on a daily basis. As a junior volunteer, I have been able to witness and help in the care of the patients. I have encountered countless people who are just so happy to see us here in Ecuador. As we walk by them, a smile instantly appears on their face, and it is certainly contagious (I myself cannot help but smile). While communication with the patients is restricted to translators, I know that the patients are eternally grateful to us. In addition, I have a new appreciation for all the opportunities available to us back in the U.S. Finally, taking part first-hand in the hospital and clinic, my interest in the medical field was piqued. I am eternally grateful to all at Blanca’s House who awarded me the opportunity to travel to Ecuador with them, and I hope to be able to participate in future missions. This has truly been a life changing experience for me.