A week after returning from the expedition to Chaouen, I feel able to express in words what I experienced there during those days. I had already been warned that it was going to be hard, but until you experience it first hand, you don’t really become aware of the experience. Many describe it as a life experience, but for me it has been something more than that… It determines my present and, of course, my future. It has been a shared experience about the values of friendship and teamwork. We were 11 people coming from different places and we connected from the first day. We became a perfect ensemble that flowed at all times. Belén (instrumental nurse) and I, we had no respite. We functioned as one person, next to Aitor and Sofia who functioned as another. It is curious how at the end of each day, it was impossible for me to remember each patient, each eye, each difficulty, each manoeuvre, each palpitation and each sigh, and yet, 7 days later, I can see every detail as if it were in front of me. I remember every single patient I was able to operate on, and they were not few! Every day I was exhausted, I admit, but happy, satisfied and motivated to continue the next day. Above all, I felt useful.
I would like to personally thank my colleague and friend, Dr. Aitor Fernández, for his confidence in me, and I am sure we will do it again! I would also like to thank Belén Marcos for her unconditional support at all times. Without her by my side, it would not have been the same. She is exceptional.
To the rest of the team, Dr. Borja Maroto, Dr. M. Paz Martínez, Sofi Navarro, Leo Herguedas, Reme Peinado, Belén de la Hija, Nora Folguera and Cristall Andreu. Thank you for your joy. Thank you for making it possible.
I do not forget Moha and Salima. Their work is essential.
Thanks to the Elena Barraquer Foundation for the great work they do in each of the expeditions. In ours, 301 hopes.
Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.
Dra. Susana Perucho
Surgeon – Ophthalmologist.
It has been an unforgettable experience, I was a bit scared and not knowing what I was going to find because it is a different environment, different people, different way of working. But it has far exceeded all expectations.
The team I have been lucky enough to work with, Cristall, what a power of organisation, how well she has managed us, it is a pleasure to work with her, Sofi, incredible the work she has done organising all the material and her experience, it has been very helpful. The ophthalmologists Susana, Aitor and Borja, what a challenge they have overcome and how well they have done it. Belén, the instrumentalist, has held up like a champion and what a good collaboration. The volunteers, Belén who helped us to organise ourselves and Nora, Leonor and Reme who, with their youth and joy, encouraged us a lot in our work, with them everything seemed lighter. The hospital where we were, the welcome and the help we received from all of them, from those nurses who were so nice and so willing to collaborate. And I don’t want to forget Simona, the anaesthetist, thank you for your good advice and support. And to all of you who are part of the Foundation, thank you for your work.
And finally the patients, so grateful with their words and kisses that have made this experience something magical. Thank you very much for everything.
Mari Paz Martínez
It was an incredible and unforgettable experience. It was my first experience in health cooperation. I suppose we have helped many people, but it has also been a great lesson for me, from a scientific point of view, seeing pathologies that we no longer see in our environment, to a life lesson of how to thank and value our health system based on prevention, which is one of the pillars that is lacking in these countries.
It is a very intense experience in just a few days, with very emotional moments of being able to help people and see their faces of total gratitude and also hard moments of frustration for not having been able to solve the problem or for having complicated the procedure.
Another point I would like to add is how important the team is, being at ease and having a good atmosphere among everyone. This has been key to the development of our expedition, besides working very hard, we have tried to have the best time possible and support each other. Congratulations to the whole team.
Thank you very much for having trusted me for this experience and of course to repeat it when you need an ophthalmologist or surgeon.
Dr. Borja Maroto
It has only been 10 days, but anyone who has been there will agree with me that it has been so intense that it has seemed like weeks. In my case, it has been the first time that I have carried out a cooperation, at least a formal one, outside Spain. I have to say that it has exceeded all the expectations I had placed on this collaboration. It has been much more intense, harder, but also much more satisfying. It has been, without a doubt, one of the most emotional weeks that I will cherish with a big smile on my face.
The great team formed by all the volunteers of the Foundation, the collaborators of the Azahara Foundation and Equatorial Coca-Cola, as well as the local collaborators, have made it possible to row in the same direction in favour of each and every one of the patients.
The nerves of having to live up to the mission entrusted to us and to reach every person who was waiting for our help were forgotten with every word, every gesture of gratitude, every outstretched hand seeking safety, every smile given and every look of happiness.
Thanks to the Foundation for allowing me to be part of this vital experience, and of this unique team, led so well by Aitor, Sofí, and Cristall and made up of great people and professionals. Congratulations for the work done, before and during the expedition.
Undoubtedly, every person who has been able to recover their sight, thanks to this work, will be grateful and, as we were told, we have contributed to “changing their lives”. But also those of us who helped to achieve this, contributing our small grain of sand, are grateful and satisfied. There is no doubt that I will come back again.
Belen de la Hija