Aug 28, 2017
For the past 7 years I have had the pleasure of serving on a medical mission to Ecuador; Operation Esperanza (Operation hope). Every year I am part of a large team of medical professionals who donate their time and resources to help the less fortunate people of Ecuador. The team is made up of 3 parts; an orthopaedic adult team, doing hip and knee replacements, an paediatric orthopaedic team doing surgery on children with hip displasia, various deformities, and club feet. And finally a dental team that provides basic dental care, treating children from the rural communities in and around the cities.
As a physiotherapist, I help with the rehabilitation portion which consists of teaching patients to walk again, do stairs, strengthening exercises and basically manage their daily activities when they return home.
In Ecuador, the people with severe joint arthritis have much less accessibility to good medical care, rehabilitation, or medications so their conditions become much worse. Fathers/ and Mothers become unable to work and provide for their families, so in some cases full families are affected by the pain and debilitation. Providing the surgery and getting the patients moving again and back to leading functional lives, not only provides a total joint replacement, but a totally new outlook on life for their entire family. It is for these reasons that this is an extremely rewarding experience for me personally.
The people of Ecuador are so thankful for our help and shower us with many, cries of ‘muchas gracias’ (as well as a few peaches, a straw hat, a small home-made bracelet, a bag of potatoes or any gift they can manage). It is truly a humbling experience and makes me realize every year why I was drawn into the medical profession “to really help people live better lives”. Every year I come home with a new perspective and passion for what I do, and am thankful for our country, our home and our incredibly blessed lives.