• Home
  • Uncategorized

All the Way to Vietnam

In the words of volunteer Marina Llull from Mallorca, Spain

Surgicorps once again has managed to recruit some of the best doctors, nurses, anesthetists and other helpers to travel all the way to the other side of the world with the only goal to provide medical attention to anyone who reaches out for their help.

On the 27th of October all of these hardworking people paused from their everyday lives to make many other lives a thousand times better. Leaving their jobs, routines and their families and friends, these volunteers were willing to go beyond feeling solidarity and take one more step. Spending their own money and time, which we sometimes forget is something pretty hard to find, these special people want to actually make a difference.

Continue reading

Guatemala Diary

Children of Guatemala

Alex Kim blogs about his second trip to Guatemala as a Surgicorps International volunteer. Alex’s dad, Dr. David Kim, is leading the trip’s medical team this year.

Continue reading

Ethiopia, February 2011


In the words of Linda Esposto, Executive Director

Surgicorps trips are all unique, yet they all have one thing in common-witnessing the love of parents for their children in all lands, and their willingness to sacrifice for them.

Ethiopia was no different. Mothers who brought their malnourished children to us at the CURE hospital in Addis Ababa in hope of a palate repair to change their lives. Mothers who were unable to produce enough breast milk to feed their infants and had no funds to purchase goat milk as supplement.

Their tears brought us to tears. In some cases, all we could offer were hugs of support.

It is overwhelming. It is at times so sad.

Continue reading

Guatemala 2010, Katie Babin & Rita DeFrancesco

Rita DeFrancesco and Katie Babin shared the same operating room (general surgery) this August in Guatemala, but how they came to be there – well, those are two different stories.

Rita was making her 13th trip, Katie her 1st.

Rita lives in Pittsburgh, close enough to visit the Surgicorps office and warehouse regularly. Katie lives in Michigan and found Surgicorps on an internet search.

But thrown together, they make an efficient and dedicated team.

Rita has worked with Surgicorps teams in Brazil, Paraguay, Nepal, Vietnam, Africa, Bhutan and Guatemala.
She has been awed by the beauty of the land in Nepal and the tranquility of the people and the country of Bhutan.

She has been impressed by the paradox of the poverty of the people and the richness of the land in Africa.
A veteran of so many trips, she finds it comforting to know, “I can still contribute in a meaningful way and survive the rigors of a Surgicorps trip.”

Indeed, she can.

“Divine intervention.” That’s how Katie describes her opportunity to join a Surgicorps mission. She had signed on, and was trying to figure out how to finance her trip, when she received an unsolicited check in the mail from her brother.

Divine intervention, indeed.

Of her co-workers in the operating room, Katie felt, “People were volunteering their time and efforts, and what made it so special was that we all wanted to be there – in another country for no money.”

“But I received something so much more valuable. I got to work with people who were generous and dedicated to serving others. I got to see people who were genuine when they said, “God will bless you.”

In Katie Babin’s words, “Thank you, Surgicorps International, for allowing me to join your family. I hope I will see you again soon.”

Katie and Rita, we at Surgicorps hope we see both of you again soon.

Guatemala, August 2010

Child with DollMother and Child

In the words of volunteer Dave Fortun

It begins in chaos and ends in tears of joy for a job well done.

That is how a Surgicorps medical mission goes.

Sunday, screening day in Antigua, Guatemala, August, 2010.

51 Surgicorps volunteers screen, photograph, and register approximately 100 of the 150 surgical candidates for a week of surgeries. Language barriers, children coloring in busy walkways, crying babies and paperwork demands equal controlled mayhem.

But it all works out, and at the end of the day, 25 Guatemalans per day have been slotted for general, gynecological, hand, or plastic surgery.

Monday morning offers more of the same challenges, as the first patients (not necessarily the patients scheduled first!) are anesthetized, the next patients are prepped, and all 51 volunteers settle into their tasks, their routines, their roles.

And so it goes, Tuesday through Friday, and when it is all done, when 100+ patients from near and far have been sent upstairs or home, and the volunteers have packed, thanked and said goodbye to their hosts for the week, it is time to shed tears of joy for another job well done, for another successful mission.
As has been the case with the past 5 trips to Guatemala, the team was hosted by Obras Sociales Del Santo Hermano Pedro. Seven surgeons performed over 100 surgeries and the non-medical volunteers, besides supporting the medical personnel in the hospital, also made daily visits to the hospital orphanage to feed and play with the young children there.

The 100+ surgeries were performed by 7 specialists: Dr. Victor Nieto and Dr. Marguerite Bonaventura (General); Dr. David Kim (Hand); Dr. Joanne Oleck (Gyne); and Drs. Jack Demos, Mel Spira, and Anna Wooten (Plastics).

Surgicorps will return next August 13-20 as it continues its ongoing commitment to the staff and patients of Obras and the citizens of Guatemala. If you would like to join Surgicorps on any of the medical missions, please complete a volunteer application. Please support the Surgicorps mission to provide surgical care to those in need in developing countries by making a donation today on the donation page. Surgicorps needs your support.

Guatemala 2009


A cleft palate is a cleft palate.

But the patients are always different.

They come from different towns with different stories and different faces. And that is why each trip to the same city, Antigua, is different – but just as rewarding as the last.

On August 15, 2009, a Surgicorps team of 47 volunteers (25 on their first mission) from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Florida, Colorado, Utah, Boston, Connecticut and California met in Guatemala for a week-long mission of surgeries and related medical care. Same hospital, same host staff – different patients, different lives to be impacted.

Seven days and 86 surgeries later, the team returned to the United States, and Surgicorps International added 86 names to the list of thousands whose lives have been improved in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia over the past 15 years.

Doctors, nurses, medical students, non-medical volunteers, all working daily in some large or small role to achieve the same goal: an improved life for someone in need. All working daily to feel what one volunteer, 16-year old Aarthi Ramesh, felt after working with her mother, an anesthesiologist, and her father, a general surgeon: “This might have been the best day of my life.”

Volunteer Gillian Roy shares her Bhutan experience

I knew that at some point I would sign on for a Surgicorps trip; its reputation is impeccable, its track record beyond impressive and besides, who can argue with the clarity and resolve of its mission?

Following the lead of some well-traveled and trustworthy friends, I made my first foray into this world of “voluntourism,” a week of service at your own expense in a foreign country. Now Bhutan was never on my travel hit parade, but I was jazzed about all the “firsts”: new place, people and challenges and all as part of a “medical” team.
I also was a little unsure of my own ability to do whatever was asked of me and not faint at the sight of – what? Let go, breathe, trust….

Continue reading

Bhutan Culture


In the midst of all the hard work, Surgicorps Team members had the opportunity to experience some of the traditions of Bhutan. At a local monastery, the team enjoyed a performance of local singers and dancers.

Queen Visits Patients


Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, Queen Mother, visited Paro Hospital to meet many of Surgicorps’ patients during our Medical Mission Trip to Bhutan in April. She stopped by the bedside and talked with each patient. Her Majesty received a case update from Dr. Demos and Dr. Kim. The Royal Family is greatly loved by the people of Bhutan and many of the patients and family members were overwhelmed by her generosity and kindness.

After visiting with the patients, she hosted tea for the Surgicorps Team and the Paro Hospital staff to thank us for our work and make plans for the 2010 visit.

Luncheon with Royal Family

During its April Medical Mission trip to Paro, Bhutan, the team was received by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and Their Majesties the Queen Mothers for a special luncheon in Dechencholing Palace in Thimphu. His Majesty expressed his appreciation to Surgicorps International for the good work they did through these camps in many different parts of the developing world in general and the work they are doing in Bhutan in particular.

Surgicorps Team was received by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and Their Majesties the Queen Mothers for a special luncheon in Dechencholing Palace in Thimphu.

This was a great honor for the Surgicorps Team – much like meeting the President of the United States. To add to the excitement, team members donned the traditional clothing of a gho for the men and a kira for the women. After a week of scrubs, it was fun to see everyone dressed-up. After meeting the Royal Family, we better understand why they are so well loved by their people, and we were impressed by their graciousness.

Also attending the luncheon was Lyonpo Zangley Drukpa, the Minister for Health and Dr. Gado Tshering, Secretary, Ministry of Health.

Bhutan: April 10-22, 2009

Bhutan is a landlocked nation in South Asia, located on the eastern end of the Himalaya Mountains. The country has limited health care services and physicians to meet the medical and surgical needs of its population. Surgicorps medical and non-medical volunteers work with the Bhutanese medical professionals to provide surgical services and share knowledge to help improve medical services in this mountain kingdom.

Continue reading

  • 1
  • 4
  • 5

© Surgicorps International