I was able to talk briefly about our journey to Clinic Abroad. Well now I have time to actually talk about my Clinic Abroad experience. I had the privilege to go to Bequia, a small island in the Caribbean off of St. Vincent in the Grenadines. We were there for about 10 days providing care to the people of Bequia. I can honestly say I have never had an experience quite like this one. Everything was absolutely amazing.
We arrived on a Thursday around 5 p.m. We got to our hotel and had dinner then went down to the ocean front and got to see a steal drums performance. Every night a different restaurant had live music and dancing. Thursday night was the steel drums.
Friday morning was our first day of clinic. We started almost every morning going to the different schools on the island and seeing the kids. I can’t even accurately explain how excited the kids were to see us. We would have children from other schools cheering as we walked by, hoping we were coming to their school that day. At lunch we would get stopped by kids asked when we were coming to their schools.
We did a fundraiser before our trip and sold little stuffed bears to give to the preschoolers. They loved them and the stickers we gave them. It was really cool to see such young people get so excited about something we take for granted sometimes.
That afternoon we opened up our clinic on the veranda at our hotel. Our view was overlooking the ocean. We couldn’t have asked for a better set up. We ended up seeing so many people and you could tell these people were just so grateful we saw people do things they haven’t been able to do in years. We saw people get out of pain they’ve had for months. We had people come back and tell us that visiting us last year changed their lives and they haven’t been in pain since, but they just wanted to come see us and get checked just to be sure. Everyone was so happy to see us, and after we had been there a couple days, we would get stopped on the streets and thanked for being there or asked what our hours were because they wanted to come see us.
We got to be immersed in the culture. And the food was delicious. I tried things I would have never thought to have tried. I found a favorite vegetable I’ll never find again. I am terrified of sharks, so as a personal victory one day I ate shark! I tried conch, barracuda, various island fruits and had the most delicious burrito and burger I’ve ever eaten.
We spent every night at the ocean with the most beautiful views. We went on a sailboat cruise to the Tobega Keys and snorkeled at World’s End Reef, which was just absolutely amazing, even though I got slightly sea sick. The night before we left, six of us hiked the volcano on St. Vincent.
The travel back was a little rough. We had planes delayed and missed flights and more delays and sitting on runways for hours, but we made the best of it. After getting home 24 hours later than we were supposed to, we still had a great time with wonderful memories.
The first rule of Clinic Abroad is to be flexible. We learned that first-hand on the way back, but even with that, I have nothing to complain about.
I can’t express how grateful I am for this experience. I wouldn’t have changed anything. If you ever get an opportunity to do something like this, just do it. You will not be disappointed, and the people are so grateful. I can’t pick a favorite moment–I can’t pick out what I liked the most because it was all just so perfect. I went with a group of classmates and left with a group of friends. I watched my classmates transition from students to amazing doctors, and I am more than happy to call each and every one of them my colleagues and friends. We really changed lives while we were there, and I think our lives were changed as well.
We all learned to be a little more grateful, a little more appreciative and a little more humble.