Updated: Sep 17, 2019
There are more than enough words to describe their support, dedication, and attention to detail, but definitely too many for a single post.
I am a resident physician in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Spaulding/Harvard Medical School program, serving as one of the chief residents and entering my final year of training there. Throughout my time in Boston, I have been fortunate to train and learn from some of the leaders in the field of both physicality, neurology, physical, occupational, and speech therapy. However, beyond all of that, I get to learn from exceptional patients. These patients arrive from all corners of the world, bringing with them an array of medical problems, socioeconomic hurdles, and life experiences. One of the greatest privileges of working as a physician is that you become a part of that patient's history. They tell you details about their lives and how they live them, uncensored. This is unlike any day to day conversation you can have with a complete stranger. They exalt their truth. From that, you can learn a lot about other people. I would argue, that almost equally important, if given time to reflect, you can learn a decent amount about yourself as well.
One of the best parts about Travel and GIVE is that it allowed me the opportunity to learn about Haiti, the people of Haiti, and after some self reflection, a little about myself.
Travel and GIVE set me up with a family to live with while I traveled to Haiti to learn about rehabilitation there. At first, I was slightly nervous. Actually, very nervous; not that I would have ever admitted that prior to going. As an aside, I lived with a host family in Spain for almost 5 months when I was college. For that reason, I figured I would be ready. As the time grew shorter until my departure from Boston, I realized one important difference; I spoke Spanish, I did not speak Creole or French. Unsure of how I would communicate with those that I would live with, I left Boston and was off to Haiti. As mentioned before, all details about the trip went perfectly. The group assisted in organizing someone to greet me at the airport and drive me to my residence. At my residence, I was greeted with kindness and warmth that seems to only be reserved for family and close friends. Even the dogs at the home only barked a few times at me. Travel and GIVE ensured that my food accommodations were taken care of.
Throughout everything, I had a streamlined and simple experience. I could focus on the patients that I came to see. The kids at the orphanages that I was able to work with were amazing. Typically, we are dealing with similar medical problems, but the paradigm of the child's situation had shifted. And subsequently, so do the care and the goals of the interactions. This experienced afforded me the chance to grapple with my ingenuity and problem solving skills, or lack thereof, and develop into a better equipped physician for the issues certain people face. Additionally, the care takers and therapy staff treated me with such respect and kindness. Travel and GIVE even set up for me to have a driver to feel safe when traveling. Again, there are too many words when trying to concentrate my experiences down into a blog post. What I can say for certain though, is that Travel and GIVE provided me the chance to improve others. Also, I suppose my patients believe it has shaped me into more robust doctor and compassionate person.