Plan to see pts to provide much needed eye care such as cataract surgery and pterygium surgery. It’s a life changing surgery for someone who is handicapped by their vision. They are able to get back to their normal life and take care of themselves. Cambodia has advanced cataracts and the local eye services barely meet the need in rural areas. It all starts with visual screening and some are just given advise on eye care while those who are severely affected with cataracts are scheduled for surgery.
Cambodian population. Cambodia is still a very new country and although the major cities have some developed eyecare in rural areas the eye care is non existent. They barely see an eye doctor let alone surgery. They cannot even afford to simple eye drops and their vision makes them dependent on their families. This life changing surgery gives them their sight back so they can function in their daily life safely.
These missions are not possible without local support and collaboration. I always work with host ophthalmologist and learn from them and teach them. It’s a bilateral relationship where things we don’t see in USA we learn from them and we pass on the newest techniques and treatment plans.
CHPAA/SEE International Eye Mission 2023
Often new volunteers will express that they are not doing as much as a physician on a medical mission. These are either students, spouses, neighbors, teachers or local businessmen. These volunteers come from diverse backgrounds, who assist with administrative tasks, translation, and community outreach. Medical mission trips offer a unique opportunity for volunteers to help people in need and make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. The benefits of medical missions are not just limited to the patients who receive care but also extend to the volunteers who participate. Medical mission trips provide volunteers with the opportunity to gain experience and learn new skills, to broaden their perspectives on healthcare, and to build meaningful connections with the communities they serve.
They feel that their contribution may not be making a big impact. On the contrary, its their genuine care and humility that makes the greatest impact. They are the first to have the contact with patient and with their warm smile and gentle hand holding they spark the assurance and trust that makes the job of physician much easier. Language may be a barrier to communicate but their kind gestures channel their thoughts. Medical missions are not about gaining fame, pride, recognition, or plaques, it’s about genuine care. There should be no expectations of gain of any kind. One must seek the genuine need to help as our volunteers do.
These qualities can be seen in any medical mission volunteers, and I had a chance to see it firsthand on my recent mission to Cambodia in the Banteay Meanchey Province. From early morning the volunteers line up take on any task they are assigned. Working all day in heat and sun, tirelessly running around, keeping a smiling face, and asking for more. They perform their assigned duties with love and care. They connect with patients and show the same enthusiasm till the end of day. From the initial awkwardness they soon become best friends with everyone they come in touch with. This becomes contagious, soon and they are creating long term friendships.
None of these Medical Missions are even remotely possible without the selfless efforts of the volunteers. Starting months before the mission, helping coordinate schedules, inventory, supplies, packing and working out the logistics. Medical mission trips can be physically and emotionally demanding, but the rewards are numerous. Volunteering in a medical mission can be an incredibly transformative experience, both for the volunteers and for the communities they serve. For volunteers, medical missions offer the chance to learn about healthcare and make a meaningful difference in people's lives. Language barriers, cultural differences, and limited resources can all make providing medical care more challenging. However, these difficulties are often outweighed by the positive impact that medical mission trips have on the communities they serve. Many volunteers return from their trips with a newfound sense of purpose and a desire to continue serving others.
Mission volunteers are individuals who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of others and are willing to dedicate their time and skills to this cause. Medical mission trips provide an opportunity for volunteers to broaden their perspectives, gain new experiences, and make a meaningful impact in the lives of those they serve. If you're interested in making a difference through medical missions, consider reaching out to an organization that provides these opportunities and find out how you can get involved.