I took so many amazing memories away from Extra Mile’s last mission trip to El Salvador in April, that it’s hard to pick any one to write about. But there is a specific interaction that stands out, and seems very relevant now as we are just one week away from returning to the same communities we served in April.
We were wrapping up our final day of clinic for the week in a small community called La Presa. In many ways this community best demonstrates what it is we are doing.. and why we’re doing it. It is such a warm and clearly close-knit community. The people there are so incredibly gracious and hospitable. It is also a very physically remote location. It sits well off the beaten path, in somewhat hilly, rocky terrain. There is a road that can be used to access the small church we convert into our pop-up clinic, but that may be overstating it. You would need a pretty well-equipped 4 wheel drive utility vehicle and some dry conditions to make the trek. Our team has chosen to drive to the front of the community and hike in for clinic.
During that walk you can’t help but feel the barriers to care that the people of this community face. With just the circumstances described above, it’s easy to understand why families would not be able to seek regular health care… let alone the kind of healthcare that we want to focus on… growth, nutrition, chronic condition management, etc.
At the end of a really great day spent seeing patients in La Presa, we gathered in the church to thank the community leaders who had worked so hard to make us feel welcome and to make the day a success. I made a few remarks and ended with “…and we can’t wait to get back to see you in six months.”
To which the pastor responded, with a big grin on his face, “we’ll be waiting for you.”
Jeff Mapp MD, MBA
Co-Founder, Extra Mile Pediatrics