Friday, February 22, 2013

MACLA Medical Mission Part 1

I arrived in the capital not quite knowing what to expect. For almost two years I had been hearing on and off from other volunteers about their experiences assisting medical teams that come to the Dominican Republic, but there is only so much you can learn without seeing for yourself. The mission I was volunteering (MACLA; Medical Aid for Children of Latin America) for is one of the most coveted by volunteers. For a week, I would get to stay at a hotel in the capital and spend my days at a hospital translating for patients, surgeons, doctors, and anesthesiologists before and after the many surgeries that would take place.

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Left to right: Volunteers Dana, Jose, Ashley, and Matt hold yours truly

My first stop in Santo Domingo, as usual, was the Peace Corps office in Gazcue. Having decided that I would conclude my Peace Corps service in July, I am acutely aware of the stockpile of possessions I’ve acquired over the past 23 months and, determined to be prepared when the time comes to vacate my apartment, I have begun discarding worthless items and hauling with me boxes of things to give away to other volunteers.

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Left to right: Patricia, Del, Me, and Katrina

The Peace Corps office was especially busy that day. PCV’s from all over the country had descended upon the capital for one of the semi-annual three-day stretches of planning and coordinating of national initiatives known as CORPS Forum. My jaunt into the volunteer lounge delivered more than its usual burst of social anxiety as well as excitement and happiness at being briefly reunited with friends I so rarely get to see.

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Arrive before dawn in the courtyard at Hospital Bellini

After jettisoning my payload of hand-me-downs and running a couple of errands, I called a cab to the hotel and was on my way. I was the first to my hotel and welcomed my first hot shower in months, along with a luxurious rest on a bed not filled with air.

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