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2017 project: Georgetown, Guyana


Project Stories

No Crying in the O.R.

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As I stared at what remained of Rhoda's face, I broke the cardinal rule: "No crying in the O.R." All too common at Mwami Mission Hospital are burn cases like three-year-old Rhoda's. After falling in the village fire six weeks earlier, all of the skin that once covered her face was now incinerated. The fire left no lips, nose, or eyelids, even exposing part of her skull. Her shriveled fingers dangled from her swollen, skinless hand. She hardly looked human.

For six weeks all Rhoda had done was lie in a hospital bed and cry. I watched as the surgeons covered her face and hand with grafts taken from her thighs. In the days that followed, I visited Rhoda in her recovery, and for the first time since her accident she stopped crying. Her father looked at me with tears in his eyes and said in shaky English, "I am so happy now."

Rhoda was one of over a thousand patients aided by our team of thirty-five volunteers. Over the course of two weeks, our medical team conducted clinics in various villages throughout Zambia while the surgical team performed operations at Mwami. My involvement with Legacy of Healing has allowed me to travel to Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Zambia, and Botswana. As Youth Ambassador on the board of advisors, I have assisted with planning and preparations for trips to aid many poverty-stricken villages like Rhoda's.

When we first arrived at Mwami, the cold showers, faulty electricity, and rooms crawling with roaches were a shock to my sheltered, suburban self. Mouth gaping, tears running down my face, I stared horror-stricken at the enormous spider crawling above my bed. Seeing countless emaciated, shoeless children living in huts with no water, electricity, or mosquito nets, made me realize how trivial my discomforts were. By the trip's end, however, the Mwami dorms seemed like the Ritz.

Running clinics in Africa was a much greater challenge than Legacy had faced in other countries. Upon arrival at one clinic, we faced merely an open field with a bamboo fence and a wooden platform. As we stared, puzzled, our bemused driver asked, "Were you expecting a building?" It was incredibly moving, however, to watch the people from surrounding villages trek through the bush to see our doctors. The previous year I was able to screen patients and serve as a translator in Spanish-speaking Paraguay. The new language barrier was difficult, but by the end of the trip, I knew "Kamozi katatu pasiku" – take one three times daily – and several other dosages in the native Nyanja.

Witnessing cases like Rhoda's and walking through such indigent villages allowed me to realize my blessings. The laborious hours of preparations were worth seeing such lasting improvements in the lives of patients made able to drink water after a cleft-palate repair, or the relief in a mother's eyes receiving an anti-parasitic for her baby. I look forward to helping thousands more like Rhoda through Legacy of Healing, even if that means crying in the O.R.

— Stephanie S.

 

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Our Mission:

Compassion: sending surgical, medical/dental and water project teams worldwide

Illumination: teaching patients and local personnel

Restoration: promoting and enhancing physical and spiritual health and healing

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