I could say a thousand things about this mission. For me, it was a great learning experience and a lesson in life. Such diverse people united by altruism and the capacity to work. What can I say to those of you who have been on so many expeditions! Thanks to all of you and especially to you Isabel for opening the door of the Foundation to me and to my colleagues in the operating theatre, with whom we shared so many hours of work, thanks for your respect and for the intensity and joy that you gave me at all times.
I wish you all the best in life. A big hug. Farewell.
Pepi Costa – Field Volunteer
We have succeeded, we have been able to help 1,141 people to recover their sight, but without a doubt the best feeling is that we have not left 1,142 people without surgery. Job done and home to continue preparing for the next one, and the next one after that, and so on until we can.
A few months ago I was telling a volunteer that of everything we do, the easiest thing on an expedition is to operate, because we know that we always take the best surgical teams, first class surgeons, excellent nurses, great anaesthetists and ophthalmologists who are incredible. The hard part is everything else, so when we get to work, we like to make the most of our resources. We are not obsessed with numbers, we are concerned about all those people who every time we arrive in a country hope that we can operate on them, who wait for hours or even days for their turn and who we don’t want to let down.
The worst feeling is to see that you don’t get to patient 1,142 and you have to tell them that if everything goes well and we get the money to set up the next campaign, assemble the medical team, that no suitcases get lost, that the country’s customs don’t give us any problems, that nothing has been damaged on the way, that our partner in the country is still the same, we will be able to operate next year… Without thinking about everything that can happen in a year. Because of all these conditional yeses, every time we have the opportunity to operate, we don’t want to waste a minute. For many it is a number, but for us it is lives that we change. Like Laura’s life, or Baltasar’s or Doña Juana’s… Part of those 1,141 people who trusted in the Elena Barraquer Foundation to have cataract surgery in El Salvador. Thank you for your affection.
And yes, we are proud of the number of people we are able to operate on, we are proud of our surgical capacity and of how we have improved and optimised our technique in recent years. In this last campaign there have been more than 1,000 surgeries and more than 15,000 in the last six years, and we want to keep adding more. As long as people need us, we will repeat many times #NoMasCataracts.
Congratulations to everyone who took part in this last campaign, from the supplier who diverted an order so that it could reach us on time, the Iberia check-in person who helped us with our luggage, the driver who was always on time to pick us up, the camera that served us dinner after a day’s work, etc… and the team of 22 volunteers who, without knowing each other, came together with a single goal, to restore sight to as many people as possible.
Challenge achieved, more than 1,000 happy people, but undoubtedly the happiest ones were us.
Teté Ferreiro – Director Elena Barraquer Foundation
I had the honour of taking part in the expedition to El Salvador on 5 May with the Elena Barraquer Foundation. I was very excited to be able to have an experience of this calibre, even, I must admit, with a certain amount of respect. Now, I am aware of the real gift that the Foundation has given me. It has been a few days of very intense work, but such was the motivation of the whole team that this intensity was converted into the excitement of meeting the scheduled challenge. Seeing the joy with which the patients arrived, the teamwork, and the great sharing among all of us, has been an experience to be repeated on another expedition.
I will never forget the big hugs that all the team members gave each other when the last patient arrived, cataract operation number 1141, in five intensive days in the operating theatre!
And I do want to emphasise that the help of the entire team of the Elena Barraquer Foundation has been decisive before, during and after the trip. As it was the first time they had made a trip like this, they were doubly committed to the newcomers. The veterans, those who had already been on another expedition, were twice as relaxed as I was. In my next experience it will be a luxury to be able to enjoy this “veteran” from the beginning.
Lola Curt – Field Volunteer