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SPOTLIGHT ON 2017 ZAMBIA TEAM MEMBERS

Surgicorps’ 7th trip to Zambia is ready to go! We leave on September 16th and return on the 23rd with 20 medical and non-medical team members. We look forward to partnering again with Beit CURE International Children’s Hospital in Lusaka. Our team members hail from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, California, Colorado, Florida and Wisconsin.

Our returning volunteers include Anne Argenta, Diane Bremer, Rita DiFrancesco,  Betty Hearne, Alex Hutchinson, David Kim, Lauren McGrath, Richard Montilla, Bernadette Montilla, Megan Natali, Lynn Novier, Scott Pearson, Modupe Sonuyi, Alyson Winston and Charles Yang.

A warm welcome to our new team members this year: Ian Brotman and Leah Tedder.

Jack Demos returns as Medical Director and DeNese Olson, our Director of Operations, is the Trip Coordinator. Lori Ellis will be making her 11th trip and is serving as Medical Coordinator.

Thank you Team Zambia for helping Surgicorps serve people in need in Lusaka. Stay tuned and follow us, for trip updates and pictures, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram!

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SPOTLIGHT ON 2017 GUATEMALA TEAM MEMBERS

Surgicorps is preparing for our 15th trip to Guatemala from August 5th-12th with a team of 35 dedicated medical and non-medical volunteers. Our team this year includes: 13 members from Pennsylvania, 14 from Massachusetts, 2 from California, 3 from New York and 2 from and Colorado and 1 from Florida.

Surgicorps looks forward to working with hospital staff at the Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro Hospital again in Antigua and seeing old friends while meeting many new patients on screening day.

Previous Surgicorps team members include Dylan Anthony, Reza Borna, Kevin Cohen, Amelia Hare, Amy Hatch, Dave Metro, Mario Metro, Richard Montilla, Farzaneh Nabizadeh, Victor Nieto, Katie Respet and Carolyn Terman.

We welcome several new team members this year as well: Patricia Avis, Cathy Boyle, Lytia Fisher, Anne Hardart, Livia Jaen, Linda Levy, Meghan Lauze, Emily Metro, Christine Miller, Alexandria Montilla, Julie Myslinski, MJ Pelusi, Jonathan Pelusi, Julia Poppenberg, Lyla Sax, Robert Slamin, Sara Straesser, Lisa Szuksta, Walter Szuksta, Nicole Verdecchia, Jodi Yingling.

David Kim returns as Medical Director and Stephanie Charron will be the Trip Coordinator.

Surgicorps launched the Bon Voyage Crowdrise fundraiser again and several team members are participating in raising funds to support our general Guatemala fund. These donations support the purchase of medical supplies and shipping costs amongst other expenses. Thank you to all team members who are sharing the Crowdrise page on their personal pages!

Surgicorps is grateful to these generous individuals who help make our shared mission of serving individuals in need around the world possible through their commitment of time, energy and resources. Stay tuned and follow us, for trip updates and pictures, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Touching the Beautiful People of Bhutan by Merelise O’Connor; Surgicorps 2017 Volunteer

To spend precious moments over several days talking with the patients and families was deeply enriching for me during my inaugural trip with Surgicorps International.  They displayed quiet stoicism and great courage.  Their surgical needs were the result of injuries, burns and birth defects that caused speech and hearing problems. Many of these Bhutanese people traveled from villages hours and even 3-4 days on buses to arrive at the Paro Hospital.  Of the 52 patients treated by Surgicorps, Sonam, mauled by a bear, burn victim, Kuenden, and bilateral cleft patient, Janyang are typical of the people who are treated.

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Sonam was attacked by a bear, in 2007, when she was just 14 years old and is the youngest of 7 children. She lives in the eastern region of Bhutan. Her parents are still alive and are farmers. Sonam was walking the 30 minutes to non-formal education (NFE) where people who may not have had the chance to go to school at an early age may learn the basics.  She was all alone and the attack was sudden and from behind.  She never heard it and didn’t see it coming.  Sonam felt the bear maul her face, fainted and fell to the ground.  While she was unconscious, the bear dragged her from the road about 25 feet into the woods.  She felt lucky that the bear left her right next to a cliff and didn’t drag her or toss her off the cliff.  Her injuries were on her right lower leg, left back of the head, her nose and face and her right ear.  The claw marks are still visible on her knees.  When she awoke, she walked 10-15 minutes to her friend’s house who then notified her parents.  An ambulance was called and transported her 3 hours to the Mongar hospital. She was in the hospital for 8 days.  Fortunately, her family was alerted that Surgicorps was in Paro and could help.  She traveled 16 hours in the ambulance to receive treatment in 2007.  For this ongoing reconstructive surgery, Sonam travels 2 days by bus to get to Paro.

Now 24, Sonam is married to Gyembola and has a 4 year old son.  She “has a good life.”  Her husband takes good care of her. She is so grateful to Surgicorps for the treatment she receives and that Surgicorps has made her a “proper nose.”  Sonam went on to thank the doctors, the hospital, Tarayana Foundation, the whole team for giving her a second life.  If not for Surgicorps, she doesn’t think that she would have lived. It is a dream come true, a miracle.  The Surgicorps team is like a “god” to her.

Kuenden Nima and mom

Kuenden, 2 years and 5 months old.  His mom is Yangchen, 24 years old.  His dad is a teacher on the primary level.  Kuenden suffered a burn injury to the hand when he was 1 + years old by accidently touching an electrical heater while his father was repairing it. His mom was in the kitchen doing dishes when this happened.  This accident happened in Paro, but the family lives in Samtsi, in southwest Bhutan.  It took her 8 hours on a bus to get to Paro.  Yangchen expressed her happiness that her son’s hand could be repaired by surgery.  She couldn’t ever imagine his hand could be treated, but had been hoping for it and heard about Surgicorps on the news channel.  She thinks Surgicorps International does a great job!

Janyang Seldon and mom

Janyang, age 5 months has a bilateral cleft lip.  Her mom has said that people are sympathetic towards her.  The family lives in Paro, only a 20-minute drive to the hospital.  Tshewang is 29 years old.  She heard on the news that Surgicorps was coming to the hospital.  She is grateful and could not imagine a person “like me” getting treatment for her daughter.  She says thank you to Surgicorps for coming to Bhutan and for providing treatment to people at no cost.

The patients and the families were calm and patient while waiting outside for hours.  They asked for nothing and consider the work of Surgicorps to be miraculous.  It brings value to their lives beyond their wildest expectations in Bhutan.

SURGICORPS INTERNATIONAL: SPOTLIGHT ON KAZAKHSTAN TEAM 2017

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Surgicorps will embark on the first surgical mission to Astana, Kazakhstan from May 19-May 25, 2017. There are a total of 10 team members including 4 from Pennsylvania and 6 from other states. Surgicorps will partner with the Asyl Bala Foundation in order to provide services at the University Medical Center, affiliate of the National Research Center for Maternal and Child Health in Astana.

The veteran team members include Tara Burns, Melinda Handler, Betty Hearne, David Kim, Guy Leone, Aamir Siddiqui, James Terman and Anna Wooten. Surgicorps founder, Jack Demos, will be the Medical Director and Linda Esposto, our Director of Programs and Logistics, will serve as the Trip Coordinator.

We look forward to our first surgical mission in Astana and providing services to many patients in need.  The types of procedures performed will include hand surgery, burn scar contractures and birth deformities. Please follow us on social media for trip updates and pictures.

Safe travels Team Kazakhstan!

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SURGICORPS INTERNATIONAL: SPOTLIGHT ON BHUTAN 2017 TEAM

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Surgicorps will embark on the 3rd Annual Sarah Pettrone Memorial Trip, which will be our 11th visit to Bhutan from April 22-May 2, 2017. There are a total of 21 talented team members including 10 from Pennsylvania and 11 from other states.

There are 15 veteran Surgicorps volunteers. Anne Argenta, Sheryl Lamb, Donald Laub, Maggie Mangham, Naomi Quillopa, Warren Schubert, Ron Stiller and Charles Yang. First-timers include: Andrew Berenato, Agnus Berenato, Olivia Cimba and Rama Joshi. Surgicorps founder, Jack Demos, will be the Medical Director; staff member Liam Carstens and volunteer Mary Bernacki will serve as Trip Coordinators.

We are pleased to welcome Ryan Bradley, Jessica Cassavaugh, Marina Carmody, Karen Gallagher, Merelise O’Connor and Matt Recker to their first Surgicorps trip. We look forward to once again serving our friends in Bhutan. Please follow us on social media for trip updates and pictures.

Safe travels Team Bhutan!

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Smiling Eyes By: Joan Pearlstein Dunn, Surgicorps Vietnam 2016 Trip

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It’s been three months since our team has returned from Vietnam.  As with all of Surgicorps’ trips, it was one filled with joy, and with sorrow. On screening day, the physicians walk into a room bursting with children that have cleft lips and palates, missing ears, and faces distorted from disease. There is never a shortage of dreadful and disfiguring burns; most are due to lack of proper kitchens and dangerous surroundings in rural homes. Performing life-changing surgery on people so desperately in need brings joy to everyone.  Occasionally a patient must be turned away because of high risk, or because the hospital lacks the proper facilities necessary to proceed.  When the doctors have to turn someone away, for any reason, there is no greater sorrow.

Surgicorps introduced a new vision program on this trip, and I was privileged to be a part of it.  A team of six non-medical volunteers, spent three days at a Vision Clinic in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  Hundreds of people made their way to us, many by foot, for the chance to be fitted for a simple pair of eyeglasses.  Through the generous support of Dr. Larry Butler and the Global Brigade University of Pittsburgh students, 2,000 pairs of distance glasses were donated and then tediously bagged, according to strengths.  This was in addition to 600 pairs of readers that we carried in huge duffle bags.

With Godspeed (and the help of interpreters) the six of us took a crash-course in basic optometry and learned how to refract eyes, chart the findings, and fit people with both distance and reader glasses.  Not uncommon in many developing countries, most of the patients that we screened did not speak a word of English. Local students who studied at the clinic helped us to screen and direct the sea of people that waited, some for hours, in the hopes that they would see clearly again.

Many of these people had never been to an eye doctor before, or even had their vision tested.  Our eyes watched in amazement, as some of them were able to read text for the first time in years, or look across a room that would suddenly come into focus.  We cried with them over the sheer joy of having their eyesight improved, something that is so basic in the United States.  They hugged and thanked us, as if we had performed a miracle.

With the simple gift of distance glasses, people were jubilant as they walked about the room. We learned that one woman hadn’t been able to read her beloved newspaper in over a decade.  Some of the elderly were suffering from cataracts, so without surgery they couldn’t be helped in this modest setting.  They graciously left with a smile and a thank you, and for them we had a table of sunglasses.  No one went home empty handed, least of all, us.  We flew home with smiling eyes, knowing that 775 people had renewed confidence.  They were able to read again, learn again, find employment again, look at photos of their grandchildren again, or just recognize and wave to a friend across the street.

A MOTHER’S FIERCE LOVE…BHUTAN…SURGICORPS 2016

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Tshering, a 28 year-old mother, brought two of her three children to the Paro District Hospital, in Bhutan.  It was screening day, and they joined the scores of patients crammed into packed hallways, waiting to be evaluated by Surgicorps’ surgeons.  Leaving her six-year-old boy Nima behind, Tshering traveled for two days by bus to reach the hospital.  Sonam, her five-year-old boy, and Pema, her lively two-year-old girl, were tucked by her side.  With Bhutan having no plastic surgeons in the country, patients wait months or years to be treated; many will never be seen.

In 2010, Tshering was pregnant with her first child when her husband came home drunk, accused her of infidelity, then beat her and set the house on fire. She was able to escape but suffered severe burns that kept her hospitalized for two months. Her husband remains in jail. Tshering went on to have two more children and supports the family by working as a nanny. She works seven days a week, taking two buses each way to her job. Rising early each morning to prepare all the meals for her three children, Tshering must then leave them at home to care for themselves. Nima helps Sonam when he comes home from school, and together they play with Pema until their mother arrives late at night to put them to bed. With a smile on her beautiful but sad face, Tshering explains that she receives no support from her extended family.

Surgicorps treats many burn patients, as over 3 billion people worldwide are using open flames to cook and to heat their homes. In early 2015, Sonam was burned while sleeping, when a kerosene lamp spilled on him. He suffered severe burns to his legs and perineal area, and can’t stand upright due to the contractures from his wounds. With the significant recovery time necessary for perineal surgery, coupled with the lack of suitable care at home with mom working, the doctors opted to only graft the small area on his leg. Sonam will hopefully return this year for the bigger procedure, which will undoubtedly change his life.

After his graft, Sonam eagerly joined in playtime with the other children on the ward.  Despite his obvious disability and constant pain, Sonam was full of resilience and limped to catch up with them.

Tshering was hoping for surgery on her own burn scars last year, but was urged to come back in 2017 when she would have others to help with her children while recovering. She did not complain nor become angry, but rather, she thanked the surgeon and then went back to caring for her little ones.

Much like all the others in that crowded waiting area, Tshering and Sonam have experienced unimaginable pain, loss, and sadness. Through it all, these stoic people exhibit courage and bravery.  They are grateful for the opportunity to be given a life-improving surgery.  Many will have surgery, but some cannot.  No matter what the reason, when they are turned away, they leave the hospital with a thank you, and a smile.

Surgicorps will be in Bhutan from April 22 to May 2, 2017 for our 11th trip to Paro District Hospital. Please stay tuned for updates and pictures from the ground and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Congratulations to the raffle ticket winner!

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Congratulations to the raffle winner of the travel package! 

Jane Dixon won a week stay at an RCI vacation exchange network and 2 jetBlue tickets. Enjoy your trip and thanks to all who supported the raffle!

Our Annual Report highlights some of the impact and outcomes your support makes possible. We hope you’ll read and share the report with pride.

If we’ve received your year-end donation, thank you again. Your contribution is already at work, helping to make sure we’re staffed and supplied to effectively meet the needs of our patients.

There’s still time to make a difference and help to prepare our teams to do more in 2017. You may renew your support online — Donate — or mail your check payable to Surgicorps to 3392 Saxonburg Blvd, Suite 400, Glenshaw, PA  15116.

Happy Holidays and the very best to you and yours in the year ahead,


Jack Demos
Founder

Liam Carstens
Executive Director

Linda Esposto
Director of Programs and Logistics

DeNese Olson
Operations Manager

SPOTLIGHT ON 2016 SURGICORPS VIETNAM TEAM MEMBERS

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Surgicorps International is packing for our 13th trip to Vietnam from October 28th-November 8th with 29 medical and non-medical team members. This will be our final trip of 2016.

We will once again partner with Odonto Maxillo Facial Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Our team this year includes: 17 members from Pennsylvania, 2 from Arizona, 2 from Massachusetts, 2 from Minnesota and 1 each from Missouri, California, Texas, New York, Colorado and Maryland.

Return team members include Thanh Armagost, Tu Armagost, Neal Armagost, Anne Argenta, Andrew Berenato, Mary Bernacki, Bill Bookwalter, Will Bookwalter, Alena Curry, Joan Dunn, Lori Ellis, James Fleck, Alex Hutchinson, Paul Kim, Duc Pham, Jimmy Ricciardi, James Terman, Judy Traister and Charles Yang.

We welcome several new team members this year as well:  Donna Bookwalter, Christine Depenthal, Carla Lavrusky, Belinda Lee, John Merrill, Megan Natali and David Nelson.

Jack Demos will lead the team as Medical Director and Linda Esposto, our Director of Programs and Logistics, will ensure things run smoothly on all fronts. Liam Carstens, our Executive Director, will make his inaugural trip to Vietnam.

Best wishes team Vietnam 2016 as you set out to change many lives. Stay tuned and follow us, for trip updates and pictures, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn!

SPOTLIGHT ON 2016 SURGICORPS ZAMBIA TEAM MEMBERS

Surgicorps is set to leave for our 6th mission trip to Zambia from September 17th-24th with 23 medical and non-medical team members. We look forward to partnering again with Beit CURE International Children’s Hospital in Lusaka. Our team this year includes: 10 members from Pennsylvania, 7 from Massachusetts, 2 from North Carolina, 2 from Nevada, and 1 each from Virginia and Zambia.

Our returning volunteers include Janet Belitsky, Cliff Bierman, Mary Bierman, Christine Bowman, Tara Burns, Lori Ellis, Rama Joshi, David Kim, John Lagnese, Peg Lagnese, Michele Misher-Harris, Richard Montilla, Bernadette Montilla, Scott Pearson, and Courtney Retzer Vargo.

A warm welcome to several new team members this year as well:  Mutande Chisanga, Meredith Deaton, Courtney Garbee, Yuen-Jong Liu, and Stephen Vargo.

Jack Demos will lead the team as Medical Director and Linda Esposto, our Director of Programs and Logistics, will be overseeing all aspects of the mission. DeNese Olson will be our Trip Coordinator.

Although all volunteers pay for their own airfare and accommodations and generously donate their time and skills, Surgicorps has additional expenses not covered by volunteers.  Please consider visiting our Bon Voyage 2016 Team Zambia Crowdrise campaign here and help us to fund this gap.

Thank you team Zambia for helping Surgicorps serve people in need in Lusaka. Stay tuned and follow us, for trip updates and pictures, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn!

Found in Translation: What I’ve Learned as an Interpreter for Surgicorps by Amelia Hare

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During my three years as an interpreter for Surgicorps, I’ve heard a lot of things that formal Spanish classes and medical translation textbooks simply didn’t prepare me for: a toddler cursing at me in K’iche’ when I had to restrain him from ripping out his IV, two young girls staring at me incredulously when I responded that no, I was not married yet even though I was already 17, and an 80 year old man revealing to me that the secret to a long, healthy life was eating lots of frijoles.

But perhaps the declaration that stuck with me most came from a kindhearted man who had traveled 5 hours to find help for his son who was born with a cleft palate. When I asked if he had any questions about his son’s upcoming surgery, he shook his head and replied, “No. But I would just like to thank all of you for leaving your jobs and your families this week to come to Guatemala. There are so many here who need help, but so few who are willing to provide it.”

This sobering quote put a lot of things into perspective for me. First, I realized how much I take for granted living in a place with such abundant medical resources. When my wisdom teeth started to cause problems, I had my choice of 5 surgeons within a 10 mile radius of my home. When I broke my arm, I was casted that same night. And when I feel something as minimal as a sinus infection coming on, I have the privilege to drop into any of the 15 urgent care clinics in my town and receive an antibiotic. When you are used to such accessible medical solutions, it takes a quote like that to realize that most of the world does not share this same luxury.

And secondly, as I looked at this man holding his son and heard his words repeating in my head, I realized that there was nothing else I would rather do with my life than to be one of “the few” and help those whose circumstances hinder them from receiving the care they need and deserve. After that moment, I knew that I could never be content working in a place where I was an option: one out of 5 doctors in a 10 mile radius that could all treat the same problem, while knowing that somewhere else in the world, I would be someone’s only chance at finding help.

If it weren’t for my time with Surgicorps, I might never have chosen this path. But through these trips, I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by volunteers who have shown me what it means to be one of “the few”: selfless, kind, and hardworking medical and nonmedical personnel who invest their time to help those who need it, and who exemplify what can be achieved by using their talents for the good of others. Each year, we see more than 100 patients who travel for hours to receive care for life­altering deformities and life­threatening conditions, care that they could not access otherwise. For these people, volunteers like those at Surgicorps are their only hope for a better life.

Although the efforts of “the few” are not enough to heal the whole world, they are enough to make a lasting difference. With each trip to Guatemala, I am continually amazed by what a team of just 30 caring individuals can accomplish in just a week’s time, and by how many lives are changed in the process. My experience with Surgicorps has inspired to continue this type of work, not just for one week out of the year, but for the rest of my life. And with a career built on my Spanish skills along with my medical training, I can only imagine all of the quotes I have yet to hear, both comical and life­changing.

A Message from Linda Esposto

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I have begun my path of transition to retirement. As Surgicorps moves forward, I have moments of great joy and at times much emotion as an observer and a participant. This 2016 trip to Guatemala is special for me and also for our team members here at the Surgicorps’ office.  It will be the first team to fulfill the Surgicorps mission led entirely by a volunteer Medical Director and Trip Coordinator.  Everyone has put much work and energy to develop ideas, discuss options, and listen to input. It is a work in progress to insure that our mission to help those in need in the developing world continues well in to the future. There is no doubt in my mind that this team will be successful based on the teams that have gone before them to 20 countries over 22 years.

When Surgicorps’ core contains generous donors, tireless volunteers, team members with skilled hands, team members who comfort and show compassionate and patients and their families that touch your heart, Success is guaranteed.

I want you to save the date Saturday June 3, 2017. I want to invite all of you to my home. I hope it will be very crowded. I hope to meet some of you for the first time or hug you once again. It is part of my personal transition to decrease my time but never leave Surgicorps. My home is special. It is where I surround myself with my sisters, their husbands, their children and my friends. It is my core. I want you to come because you have become a part of it. So save the date and details will follow.

So team Guatemala 2016 lead the way to the future and continue the commitment to the Surgicorps mission to provide service to those in need in the developing world.

Our hearts will be with you!

Linda

 

SPOTLIGHT ON 2016 SURGICORPS GUATEMALA TEAM MEMBERS

Surgicorps is preparing for our 14th trip to Guatemala from August 6th-13th with a team of 33 dedicated medical and non-medical volunteers. Our team this year includes: 14 members from Pennsylvania, 14 from Massachusetts, 2 from Spain and 1 each from Arizona, Colorado and New York.

Previous Surgicorps team members include Heather Archambeault, Kerry Bennett, Dylan Butt, Kevin Cohen, Beth Demos, Brian Gierl, Amelia Hare, Anne Kamarchik, Ramon Llull, Carlos Mata, Judith McNicholas, Aidan McNicholas, Dave Metro, Farzaneh Nabizadeh, Lynn Novier, Katie Respet and Mark Stoker.

We welcome several new team members this year as well: Sam Bennett, Melinda Desourdy, Amy Hatch, Melanie Hodge, Aina Llull, Nick Metro, Maria Metro, Jonathan Miller, Elise Perz, Katelyn Perz, Amy Shalala, Kylie Shalala, Regina Stoker and Greg Williamson.

David Kim will once again be our Medical Director and Stephanie Charron will be the Trip Coordinator.

Surgicorps thanks each of these volunteers who help make our mission of serving individuals in need in the developing world possible through their commitment of time, energy and resources. Stay tuned and follow us, for trip updates and pictures, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Looking Back by Scott Pearson

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It’s been 11 years since I first heard about Surgicorps. While at the University of Pittsburgh completing my masters degree in Nurse Anesthesia I heard a lecture about volunteer anesthesia by members of Surgicorps. I became interested in volunteering overseas during my initial RN training and after hearing this lecture I knew right away Surgicorps would be the group to get involved with.

I have been on 11 trips now including: Guatemala, Vietnam, Bhutan, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Zambia. It has been a great opportunity to help others and give back to those less fortunate. Participating in life changing surgery is such a neat feeling. Fixing a burn scar contracture can improve daily life so a person can walk or use their arm. Repairing a cleft lip can improve a child’s self-esteem so they are not embarrassed to go to school.

The adversity that some patients have to overcome is amazing. Some families have carried their children for days over mountains while sleeping at night without shelter just for the opportunity to be evaluated. I have been able to travel all over the world and see places I never would have otherwise. It has been enjoyable to experience other cultures.

 The chance to sample different foods and local cuisine is something I look forward to on every trip. In Vietnam, due to the absence of forks, I learned quickly how use chop sticks. I have made many new friends on these trips. The seamless teamwork that develops between the medical and non-medical personnel is always impressive. I have gained tremendous experience and skills that have helped me to be a better Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at home.

What will the next 11 years hold for me on Surgicorps trips? You’ll have to check back in 2027!

Surgicorps Bhutan 2016…..Namgay’s Eyes by DeNese Olson

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My first impression of 11 year old Namgay was one of remarkable sadness. Dressed in the traditional red robe that monks wear, his tiny frame appeared younger than his years.  Surrounded by the noisy pre-op room filled with patients and their families, he seemed nervous while he waited to be evaluated by the Surgicorps doctors. There was something magnetic about this little boy, and when I looked into his eyes I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I had somehow met him before.  Knowing that he had been through so much pain and trauma in his short life, I stayed with him to ease his fears.

Namgay was severely burned as a toddler, after crawling into an open fire while his mother was outside milking the yak.  It took two days, on foot, for his family to reach the hospital in Punaka, near his hometown.  After 7 months of treatment, he was transferred to another hospital in India where he would spend the next year being treated for burns all over his body.  Our team thought it was a miracle that he had even survived, given the nature of his wounds.

Namgay’s father entered the monastery to become a monk at the age of 5 and left when he was 17 to care for his aging parents.  His father explained that years ago it was common for a family to have at least one male enter the monastery. He went on to say that times have changed and now it is a choice for a child to become a monk. Namgay entered school after returning from India but was teased relentlessly by the other children, making it too painful to continue there.

At 10 years old, Namgay made the choice to become a monk and has been living in a monastery for a year.  His father says that now Namgay is happy and often prefers to stay at the monastery, even during break times when he can come home to visit.  Namgay’s parents are overjoyed that their son will have the opportunity to learn, and grow, in an environment where others accept him with open arms.

Next year, Namgay will return to be seen again by our surgeons. We will wait, with anticipation, to see this young monk; one who will surely be a little taller, and a little wiser.  His gentle nature and piercing eyes have left an indelible mark on all of us, one that will stay with us until we return to the Land of the Thunder Dragon in 2017 for our 11th mission trip.  Until we meet again…

© Surgicorps International