You are probably already aware of the Surgicorps mission, so I will get right down to it and leave you with a few impressions from my first visit to Zambia.
What comes to mind when you think of the country Zambia? A hot, dry, third world African nation? Yes, it is that but oh so much more.
The Beit CURE Children’s hospital sits on a lovely college like campus, six one story brick buildings surrounded by green grass, swing sets and a playground. All of the staff speak perfect English and they welcomed us with open arms, ready to help with anything necessary to ensure a successful week. I was wondering how my OR back home would respond if a team arrived and we had to work side by side with strangers…we probably would be defensive with bruised egos. The CURE staff responded with such kindness and humility. The people are soft spoken and gracious, full of joy and faith. As a Christian, faith based hospital, there is a lot of singing, clapping and praise to God.
The week starts with screening Sunday, with many to see in a limited time. It is just heart breaking that some will wait in the heat for hours and hope will be dashed as there aren’t enough hours in the day to see and treat them all. It makes you want to stay for months to help everyone, not just a week to help a lucky few.
The biggest leap of faith comes from the mothers. They don’t know us from a hill of beans but trust us with their most prized possession. They hand over their babies and children to us and most of the older kids walk into the OR without so much as a peep. Their trust in us is humbling!
I worked side by side with strangers I had just met but then become fast friends who gel within hours into an amazing, hard working team. Surgicorps recruits the most talented, caring, kind and fun staff to go on each trip, and we all bond over our common goal of helping others.
We had five days of surgery and helped 73 kids! There were a lot of tears as the CURE team sang to thank us for the week and sent us off with joy in our hearts and a little sadness to be leaving. The week flew by!
We even had a pickle ball clinic! Four women from Pittsburgh brought nets, paddles and balls to introduce the game at a clinic across the street from the hospital. They touched many lives serving those in a different capacity, but still serving. They worked hard in the heat!
This was my second Surgicorps trip, the first to Zambia and I always leave with more than I came with. I come home tired but with a renewed sense of purpose and a reminder to appreciate what I have and to live with gratitude!
Thanks to Dr. Jack Demos for your vision so many years ago! And thanks to DeNese for keeping us on time, on track and safe with a calming voice that never got flustered.
It was an honor to be part of this amazing team.