Blog Excerpts

PAST VOLUNTEERS THOUGHTS ON THEIR EcoMed Project EXPERIENCE…

- It is almost impossible to pick one moment and define it as the best; especially on a trip like this! Each day was filled with a variety of moments. They were beautiful, moving, funny, disturbing, inspiring, eye opening, and even life changing. Most importantly, however, they are all unforgettable. But my true HIGH of the trip, the best feeling I had, came from the feedback from the sisters, surgeons and clinic staff. Members from each of these groups pulled me aside to thank me for my help, and commend my performance. I felt like an effective part of the team that was making a difference in people’s lives. That was the greatest height I could reach! The feeling was indescribable. – Jason Burmeister

- I enjoyed the day-to-day clinical experience. It was great to see the differences in cultures and how medicine is treated compared to the US. I enjoyed meeting the patients and seeing the in-patients daily. Jane (the Clinical Officer) was very welcoming. – Megan Leary

- I enjoyed learning to give a shot, an ante-natal exam, watching surgeries, and getting involved in a completely impromptu tag game in the middle of town. One of the hardest moments was shadowing the internist from Lusaka while he told a young women with a husband and three children that she had AIDS. – Molly Graham

- My favorite experiences were learning how to perform a pelvic exam in a remote clinic and doing lab work with Andrew. To be given trust in a medical setting is so extremely rare in our case (and rightfully so) that when we are given an assignment to own, we strive very hard to do it well the first time. – David Matherly

- I think that the feeling of accomplishment, and knowing that we made a difference in the lives of the people we were helping was the overall high of the trip. Being able to help people that are seriously in need due to lack of services was an amazing experience. If I had to choose, I would say that the high of the trip was whilst assisting with the births.– Roy Podlisky

- On our last day, Jane invited us to witness the delivery of a baby. I put on a surgical gown, stood right next to the bed, and once the baby was born, Nurse Betty showed me how to clamp the umbilical chord and swaddle the baby. Once the placenta was delivered, I helped the mother redress. I’ve seen lots of deliveries in the states, but seeing a delivery in Sioma was completely different and definitely a highlight for me. – Jillian Dodge

- As far as a single highlight event, or aspect of the trip, the surgeons coming is certainly the best! We got to observe and assist in a multitude of surgeries. My most exciting moment is when a surgeon found an undiagnosed aneurysm on a patient’s femoral artery. The patient was having a completely different procedure on his leg. The surgeon showed me the aneurysm, then turned to me and said “When you are in the jungle, you must be prepared to meet a tiger.” He then proceeded to stitch the artery closed at the neck; explaining the procedure as he went along. The surgeries were great! – Jason Burmeister

- Shadowing the clinical officers was very helpful in explaining the evaluation and diagnosis process. – Dwindally Rosado Rivera

- Two highs definitely stick out for me, both personal and medically related. Medically, having the opportunity to witness a birth was utterly incredible for me. It was something I went there hoping to observe and actually being present made the entire trip so fulfilling for me. The church ceremony in which the whole town came up and introduced themselves was a personal highlight for me. The people of Sioma are so sweet and kind and being able to have everyone welcome us was not only a highlight of the trip but a highlight of my medical experience. – Amanda Cole

- One of the most difficult aspects of the clinic was seeing how disease has affected the young children. In particular, Malika, at only 6, was HIV positive and had TB. I have never worked with terminally ill children previous to this and there is definitely a different emotional aspect that accompanies the experience. I find it much easier to compose a somewhat emotional divide when dealing with adult patients, but I was surprised how much Malika effected me. That being said though, another personal high of the trip was once after a few days at the clinic Malika would see the truck coming and smile or even wave at us, and even showed excitement when we gave him his coloring cook and toy truck. Even something as small as a smile or wave was so rewarding. – Amanda Cole

- One of the most challenging parts of the trip was seeing the lack of needed supplies and resources. (Visiting surgeons) were using Ketamine as an anesthetic during surgery. The thermometers didn’t work and there was no blood pressure cuff. This is just the tip of the iceberg; there is a dire need for more supplies and professionals in the area. – Jason Burmeister

- Watching a baby being born was really was incredible. Building relationships with patients and staff and seeing how dedicated they are to their work was also really nice to see. However, seeing people suffer from what are common and entirely treatable medical conditions by American standards, and not being able to eliminate their pain and suffering was really difficult for me. – Michelle Russell

- Our group was very lucky to be there while outreach doctors were visiting from Lusaka. Working with them and observing their surgeries was amazing. Especially using Ketamine instead of general anesthetic!! During the removal of an ovarian mass, the gynecologist announced, “The patient is running away!” as she tried to climb off the table. Witnessing the rapid pace of outreach surgeries and the ingenuity of everyone on the team was thrilling and it was definitely an experience from which I have taken away a great deal. – Jillian Dodge

- The touristy stuff was, of course, wonderful: Victoria Falls is extraordinary and the safari was cool. But the highest point, for me was the funeral song sung by a procession of women as they passed the Sioma clinic. It was one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful scenes I’ve ever witnessed. The beauty of the harmonies, the general attitude of the singers (friendly and warm despite their solemnity). I can’t forget it. – Christopher Hernandez

- A favorite moment from the trip? Watching an abscess the size of a grapefruit being drained from a baby’s arm. – Oliver O’Connell