For me, the most exciting moment of our trip to Morocco was to leave the operating room to the waiting room, looking for the following patients. Hearing the door open, all the heads turned in our direction and all the expressions of the patients could be seen. That was always the moment when everything I would feel in their situation came to mind: nerves, impatience, fear, confusion… and I also realized what he said about their character that they were there: their calm, patience, courage, certainty. It’s impossible for me to describe in words what it feels like to hold a patient’s arm as they climb on the stretcher, or to give them a hand when they get nervous and move.
From a volunteer’s perspective, this trip has three things that are hard to find in other volunteers:
1. Immediate and measurable results – Unlike other volunteers in whom you know you work hard, but it’s hard to quantify exactly what you’ve done and you can’t always be there to see the fruits of your help directly; with the foundation trips, each person who leaves the operating room represents an eye that will be able to see.
2. Efficiency – In just 5 days and with a limited team, we were able to do 324 operations. That means you can make an important difference without having to give up your usual life for more than a week. The schedule is long and the days are used to the maximum.
3. Indispensability – At no point on the journey do you feel that you are wasting time or that you are expendable. The equipment is small and everyone is needed at all times. Other volunteers may think, “I’m doing everything I can do but… If I wasn’t here, would they miss me, or would the same work have been done?” On this trip that’s something that doesn’t exist. Each member of the team does an essential job.
For me, this journey has meant the opportunity to feel human in an enormously different context than I am accustomed to, to connect with a group of people whose gratitude is incomparably moving, to witness a fundamental moment in each of their lives, and even more importantly, to feel all of this while knowing that we were making a significant difference.
Lucia Rodés Knuth