I get to spend a week in this beautiful country surrounded by an amazing team and such incredibly loving people twice each year. This past April, just 6 months ago, I helped set up a clinic in Rio Grande under a huge tree where the community members often meet. I was a stranger to them and was there to provide medical care in a place where many of the children had never seen a nurse or doctor for a check-up. I can’t imagine the fear, anxiety and discomfort they must’ve felt when they showed up that morning. But, if those feeling were there, they hid them well. We were greeted with smiles and hugs. Our team let the families know that we would be returning to check-up on their children in 6 short months. And they trusted us to do just that...
So, here we are, just as promised. We came ready and geared up with another incredible team of 12 (that swells to more than 20 once you add translators, community leaders and so on)! Our bins were fully stocked with supplies, medications and enough vitamins for every child! But more importantly, our team came ready to provide love and great care to every person we see!
Overall, we saw 60 patients throughout our first clinic day. At least a quarter of them were known patients of ours. It was such an amazing feeling to greet a family and immediately be remembered and given a hug...they trusted us and we followed through. The hugs were so genuine, filled with love. My Spanish is very limited, which doesn’t matter at all! We had “conversations” without speaking a full sentence. I am handed a beautiful baby to hold while their mom takes a minute to fan herself. I know that when my children were infants, I never would’ve handed them over to someone I just met. But, I think that speaks volumes about the relationships we have already established in just 6 months. We are trusted friends with families whom we may have only seen 2 times in our lives! I am certain that when our first-time families see these interactions, they are immediately comforted and their anxiety fades.
I know from my previous medical missions, that I will get home and it’s only a matter of time before I feel the tugging to be back and see my friends. That amount of time seems to get shorter with each trip. I crave the unexplained, undeserved love that I have been blessed with, and I get through it knowing that we, as an organization, already have the dates set. Just six short months until I get to return, and when I do, it’ll be like I was never gone!
Kimball Mapp, Pediatric Nurse
Co-Founder, Extra Mile Pediatrics