One World Surgery Honduras | Medical Mission Trip | Volunteering Interview

My name is Tif and I am the creator of Live, Love & Voyage. I consider myself a travel blogger on the side of my full time job, nurse. I love both things and can’t imagine being a full time traveler anytime soon. My favorite place I have visited has been right in my own Country, Maine, and my favorite international place is Nusa Lembongan in Indonesia. If I am not traveling I am 100% planning my next trip. I love seeing the world but also love visiting local spots around Minnesota. Being a midwest girl, with a lot of dairy cows, I love ice cream, not a huge chocolate fan and I enjoy all the adventures. Come visit!
 
Please introduce your blog to our readers. 
My blog, Live, Love & Voyage, covers all my traveling and travel tips. I love adventure travel and I try to advertise that as much as I can on my blog. I also am a full time Nurse, so giving tips on saving money, small weekend trips and how to fit in as much as possible is something I like to do as well!
What volunteering experiences have you done and where have you done them?
I have volunteered plenty of times in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but the coolest place I have volunteered was Honduras. March 2018, I volunteered with One World Surgery in Honduras on a Medical Mission Trip.
 
Experience:
As a registered nurse, as a full time job, I was able to use my professional title to volunteer as a post operative nurse at their surgery center. Our doctors performed mastectomies and thyroidectomies, for free, for patients who have no other resources to save their lives. These were life saving surgeries, for patients that couldn’t afford surgery elsewhere or afford chemotherapy.
 
One World has their surgery center on an NPH Ranch. NPH organization is a safe haven for children that were living in extreme conditions. The children are brought to the ranch to live in family style homes with other brothers and sisters. The highlight of this safe haven is that the kids can never be adopted, they live at the ranch until they go off to high school. In high school, they go to the Tegucigalpa, but still live in safe houses ran by NPH. NPH will continue to support them and pay for their colleges after high school, as well. NPH is a great organization for children that are in need of family and love.
 
Location:
The surgery center, for safety reasons, doesn’t like their address publicized. But they are an hour and half outside of the capital, Tegucigalpa.
 
How long did you do it for?
We flew into Tegucigalpa on Saturday. All day Saturday and Sunday we were able to enjoy our time with the children on the ranch. Monday-Friday were our surgery days, which included waking up at 5am and coming home at 6pm. Wednesday we had a half day and, again, able to spend time with the children. We left on Saturday after full hearts and a lot of humbling stories.
How did you find out about these volunteering opportunities?
I work at the University of Minnesota Medical Center and two of our doctors, Dr. Tuttle and Dr. Evasovich, were the two surgeons going to Honduras. There were emails sent to all staff to volunteer their time to come down and help them with their jobs.
 
Do you have a recommended places where our readers can find out about volunteering opportunities?
I am big on doing more Medical Mission trips, which you don’t always have to have a medical background, but one place to look is One World Surgery to get involved in the same organization that I worked with. Another organization I have had coworkers work with is Project Hope and International Relief. Another great site I have found is My Go Abroad, which has many different areas of volunteering.
 
What made you choose the particular volunteering experience or experiences?
I chose this specific experience due to being able to use my professional job. I love my nursing job, I love helping people and this experience allowed me to help people less fortunate. I also was able to do it with one of my best friends, who is also a nurse. It was a great experience for the two of us and were able to tell our stories to other coworkers.
 
What planning or preparation did you need to do prior to you’re volunteering experience?
I had my passport already, so no issues with that. It was also advised to get a view shots (hep A and typhoid), both which I already had. Since it was a medical trip, I had to collect some supplies that we would be needing in the surgery center. The surgery center did have a lot of supplies, it was just very outdated. So donating/bringing items to be able to leave there was a huge preparation between all of us. I do wish I updated my Spanish before I went. I took Spanish in highschool and college but forgot a lot of words. All the local citizens only understood Spanish and no English.
What are the things you enjoyed the most & least about the volunteering  experience / experiences?
The thing I enjoyed most were the people. The children, even though there was a language barrier, were so happy to have people play with them and interact.
 
The patients were the most grateful people I have EVER met. Their stories (we had interpreters) were heartbreaking but beautiful at the same time. Some patients even walked 2 hours to get to the surgery center so they could have a life saving story. (agh.)
 
Least favorite: the food. Unfortunately, the food was a big drawback. But we were warned about it and brought food to be able to keep me full.
What has the volunteering experiences taught you?
Volunteering has taught me so much. Most importantly, stay humble. Don’t take the little things for granted. Smile always, never know who needs a small pick me up. Appreciate what I have in my life. People don’t need objects or money to be happy. Some of these may seem cliche, but when you meet people who live on dirt but area constantly smiling and just happy for good health, it lifts you up and helps you realize that health is the most important thing. Health of yourself and your loved ones.
 
 
Do you have any advise for people wanting to do volunteering? (tips, recommendations blog posts to read or any other info)
My advice: dive in. Get involved as much as you can, if you’re asked to something that isn’t the “most” fun, do it. Someone needs to help out and that is why you’re there. Immerse yourself with the local citizens. They will teach you so much about yourself and the situation you’re in. Also get to know the people you’re with. Everyone is there for one mission, help each other out and make the most of the experience everyone is having.
 
Did you experience anything you did not like about the volunteering experiences you had?  How did you overcome them?
There was nothing that made me not like the trip, but I did research before hand and learned that Tegucigalpa is one of the dangerous countries. This made me initially hesitant to travel, but the organization had guaranteed us 24/7 security making me feel a little better.
 
Please share any blog posts you have on you’re volunteering experience:
 
How do you see the future of volunteering?
Neverending! I am planning on going back on this same trip in October 2018, I even have 3 more coworkers that would love to join. I also am looking into a few more organizations as well.
What two or three thing are most important to you in a volunteering role?
  1. Getting to know the people that I am helping. They love to get to know us as well.
  2. Making sure I do everything they ask and showing excitement to do it.
  3. It is volunteering, it is all important just to be there.
What interests you most about volunteer work?
Helping people who don’t have the resources that I have is what interests me the most. This allows myself to be able to help them with no cost to them and hopefully get them to smile while I am at it.
 
What experience / qualifications / skills or other  do you have that will make you successful in this volunteering role or roles?
For the medical mission trips I am a nurse so using that experience to help others is nice.
 
What tasks / duties  did you have to do as a volunteer?
The tasks I had to do was being a Post Operative Nurse. This entailed waking the patients up from sedation and making sure their pain was controlled.
 
I, also, got to see the patients face after we told them their cancer was out of their breast, or that the partial thyroidectomy was successful. I got to witness their families cry when the doctor told them everything went well.
 
Describe your average day whilst volunteering.
We would wake up at 5 am to make sure we got to the surgery center at 530 to open up the building. We would start to admit patients for surgery, get the surgery suites ready and make sure we have all the supplies needed for that day. After our cases were done we would head home around 6pm, rest for a bit then have dinner at 7pm. After dinner we would have discussions or a powerpoint on the organization or local people.
Saturday, Sunday and half day Wednesday we spent our time with the children. I still consider this as volunteering as we helped children with chores, played with them while their “aunts and uncles” got some rest, and did other daily activities. They LOVED having us around and I ENJOYED it as well.
How much time did you have to volunteer for? (full day / certain days / hours etc)
Saturday was half day, Sunday-Tuesday full days, Wednesday half day, Thursday and Friday full day.
 
Did the volunteer organisation help with any things of the following? (accommodation / meals / travel costs / training)
Our accommodation, transportation and meals were all covered. They had a volunteer fee that my hospital paid for, after I applied. So the only thing I had to pay for was plane ticket to Honduras.
What were  your personal goals for this experience / experiences ? (did you achieve them?)
My personal goals was to enjoy my time there and immerse myself in the culture. I fully believe I achieved this.
What aspects of these experiences were you passionate about?
Very passionate about just helping others. In this specific experience, I was passionate about giving them more time with their families, more time spent living and not having to pay for a dime.
Finally
 
 
Do you have any future volunteering experiences that you are planning to do? 
The goal is to go back to this same place in October. I fell in love with the NPH organization and I enjoyed waking up every morning and helping patients in Honduras. Three other coworkers would also love to come on the trip. I am also looking for other places to go for a medical trip. I love using my skills as a nurse to help others.

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Comments
  • Lance
    Reply

    Thank you for using your experience and skills to help others on this medical trip. I have been able to volunteer on a few trips as well and have found it so rewarding. I agree that you come home with a greater appreciation of all you have and a new perspective on what is most valuable.

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