Summarizing such an intense experience in a few words is not an easy task. First of all, I would like to thank the Elena Barraquer Foundation for the opportunity it has given me to be part of their project, it has been one of the most beautiful experiences I have lived.
To become a doctor takes so many years that sometimes we can forget the reason why we wanted to be doctors which is, in the first place, to help others. Elena has been for me a great example so that I never forget the reason why I chose this career and to get a little closer to ”what I want to be when I grow up”. Why are we doctors if not to improve the quality of life of those who need us most?
This expedition has given me the energy to finish the two years of my career that I lack with the enthusiasm for medicine that the whole team has transmitted to me. Thank you Elena, Natalia, Jorge, Belén and Lydia for all I have learned from you this week, and for teaching me that the career goes beyond a few books and articles to memorize. May we never forget how beautiful medicine is and how little time you need to give to change the lives of hundreds of people.
I hope to be able to participate in another project with you in the near future. Two hundred and twenty-eight thanks!
Betty Alonso Domenech
There are people, moments and places that change you, and so was my first expedition in Mozambique with the Elena Barraquer Foundation.
A journey of 24 hours. An unforgettable welcome in “Casa do Gaiato”, a place that welcomes 150 siblings with no family and no home. A tireless operating room, led by the tenacious Elena, who sets the pace by choosing the soundtrack of each day. To her right, Natalia, always attentive and careful with every detail inside and outside the surgery. An operating room with anesthesia that ends with dances and smiles created by Belén and assisted by the affection and sweetness of our promising medical students, Lydia and Betty.
Next to me, behind the scenes, Javier. A natural boy from the Yébenes, an optician in Boane for a year and those people who appear without waiting for them, but you know they are going to be there forever.
For 5 days we operated on 228 cataracts, surgeries that restored independence for basic activities such as walking, relating and even dancing, as happened in some cases when the bandage was removed the day after the intervention. Seeing them applaud and smile made you indebted to them again and led me to understand the tireless work of the Elena Barraquer Foundation and their desire to want to come back again and again.
It has been like being a child again, like any child of the 150 who live in “Casa do Gaiato”, squeezing every second, enjoying every moment until we go to bed surrendered with the best feeling and the illusion of starting a new day. Not only do we operate cataracts, we awaken smiles in ourselves, in each patient and in each person who suffers the consequences of a blindness that we can avoid.
It is a real pleasure to be on the Mozambique 2018 expedition. To sum it up is a complicated task, it has been a magnificent experience and your humanitarian work has fascinated me.
Dr. Barraquer, it was a great surprise to meet you, so human and with so much energy. What a beautiful job you do!
Natalia a nurse of ten, thank you very much for everything, for your patience, for having a thousand eyes and reminding us when the corresponding material was missing.
My dear colleagues,
Jorge, thank you for your explanations in each intervention, for your closeness, your hugs and joy. You are so great!
I affectionately keep your pen that I take to class and make me remember the hospital in Boane.
Bethlehem, thank you so much. You have taught me so much, that every time I am asked about my experience I remember you with great affection, and a smile comes out of emotion on my face. You are a great professional.
Betty, my great roommate and operating roommate, it’s been a pleasure meeting you. Our coordination to change the BSS+A, to make sure that nothing was missing and to complement us so well in the tasks.
Actually, I hate goodbyes, but I know that we will see each other again super soon, and that I will always remember you with great affection.
If there is one word that sums up my experience on the expedition to Mozambique it is INOLVIDABLE.
It is 7 a.m. and five volunteers go to have breakfast at “Casa do Gaiato”, the image is repeated every day, kisses, hugs and smiles of some children who live together in this shelter, there is no better energy to start our day at the Boane Hospital.
Objective: to operate the greatest number of cataracts, to give back the vision to the greatest number of patients, and with it the illusion, the beginning of projects or simply to improve the quality of life.
On the way to the hospital we breathe joy: laughter, anecdotes and bets on whether this time the driver will dodge the car coming from the front or a group of cows that this morning have decided to go for a walk. The volunteers don’t know each other at all but it doesn’t matter, the desire to help unites them. Once in the hospital each one begins to carry out its work: She, energetic, tireless, always with that smile on her face puts the music and begins to ask for patients, her impetus is contagious. It is Elena Barraquer, known for her professional career but above all a person with a quality worthy of admiration.
Together with Natalia, instrumentalist, there is no detail of the operating room that escapes her. Always coordinating everything manages to turn the operating room into a play in which each protagonist appears at the right time. Volunteer to admire and great companion and I think from this trip friend.
Betty, the little girl in the group, medical student by vocation, because that eternal smile working and that love for patients is not learned in any university. Kindness radiated at every moment.
Lydia, attentive, meticulous and perfectionist. Begins this year medicine, you can see in her continuous curiosity combined with a great humanity that makes the newly operated look grateful.
Jorge, my eternal companion between punctures and consultations. Of those people you seem to know forever, eternal smile and words of encouragement when tiredness may appear. Great professional but even better person. Together with Javi, a volunteer optometrist in Mozambique, they have managed to select as many people as possible for surgery.
It’s a long day, but the good atmosphere means that without realizing it, we’re back in the van on our way back to the shelter.
There we celebrated the day, for a moment we talked about us, the bonds of a trip are being forged that we will always remember and that had a common objective: TO HELP.
The experience in Mozambique exceeded all my expectations. A total of 228 cataracts in 5 days, an incredible team, patients who embrace you in a way for having given them back their vision without knowing that they also help us, because their smiles are the ones we take back to Spain to continue working so that we all have the same opportunities.
Thanks to all of them and thanks to you guys for making this trip INOLVIDABLE. See you next time.