by Cailtin Stiglmeier, M.D. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
encuentros breves crean amistades duranderas Cuban proverb
Abstract: Every year, seventy-five high school students from Central New York State alight in rural el Salvador for a week-long adventure involving international aid, manual labor, no plumbing, and no Facebook. As a pediatrician, I’ve had the privilege of joining this group three years in a row. What ensues during this week is nothing short of chaotic and miraculous.
Keywords: global health, travel, el salvador, young life.
The third year for myself. The first time for many. The tenth year of partnership with this rural community in Rancho Grande, El Salvador. Every year another adventure, a week of heaven on earth.
Getting 75 high school students to obtain visas and move through customs is the first daunting obstacle once we land in San Salvador; 145 suitcases are pushed, pulled, and dragged from the baggage claim, through security into the warm night air and loaded into an old cargo truck. Inevitably, there are lost passports, lost bags, sequestered items, and wide-eyed stares from first-time adults and students alike. Will all the bags make it through? Will all the medicine get confiscated? How are we going to fit 90 people, plus carry-ons, onto one school bus for the 2-hour drive to the village? Who is going to feed all of us?!
During the week, multiple times on a daily basis, small miracles occur that enable this trip to occur. The miracle of the bags. The miracle of water. The miracle of the human-to-outhouse ratio: 20:1. The miracle of adequate amounts of medicine for the village, of food for our group, of having enough space to sleep 50 women on the concrete floor of the community center. Each year, my faith is tested; each year I think, this will be the year we run out of food. This will be the year the outhouse overflows. This will be the year we run out of the one antibiotic we really need. And we’ll have to become even more creative in finding solutions for these problems. Every year, I’m wrong.
Yo read Dr, Stiglmeier’s full essay: El Salvador Stiglmeier