While participating on a Rotaplast mission in India, Rotary District 5130 Governor Erin Dunn thought this would be a great experience for Rotaractors. She got the support of clubs to fund four volunteers for our mission in Bangladesh. In their own words, here are their impressions:
Carly Robbins, Patient Transporter
I was truly honored to be offered a position on this mission, a unique opportunity for a Rotaractor. When telling people of the upcoming mission, I received many raised eyebrows. Beyond the obvious thought of culture shock, I was worried about my ability to perform my job well.
My role has been patient transporter. I also prepare the patients for surgery and wait with them until they are taken to the operating theater. This can be a nerve wracking experience for many patients, especially young children who also feel vulnerable in their hospital gowns.
The first patients were two boys around age eight. As we began dressing one boy he became scared and started to cry. I asked what sound a dog makes? What about a cat and a bird? As we joked about the different noises animals make in Bangladesh vs. America, both boys started to laugh and forget their worries showing us their beautiful smiles.
My experiences in Chittagong have been nothing but amazing. We have been welcomed with open arms. Everyone from the local Rotarians and hospital staff to the Rotaractors acting as interpreters has shown us kindness and compassion. They have also given us the gift of friendship. I am proud to have been even a small part of this mission.
Jamie Carroll, center, with PACU nurses Ligaya Agustin, RN and Terese Patrin, RN
Jamie Carroll, PACU Assistant
The tendency to lean toward “the fear of the unknown” is embedded in existence. Too often we fall prey to it and occasionally it inhibits our life experience. Bangladesh was certainly the unknown to me.
As I shared with friends and family that I would go, the common response was, “why would you go there?” A response marinated in the “the fear of the unknown.” The concept of the mission eased their concern, but not necessarily my own. Not until the plane touched down did I fully accept that I was going to Bangladesh. In my wildest dreams, never could I have expected the beauty waiting for me beyond the common conceptions.
I hoped for a life changing experience and that is what I’ve gotten. The days are long and heavy with hard work, but the soulful smiles of the Bangladeshi people have lightened the load and the spirit. The tears of the children’s pain from surgery breaks the heart, only to be mended when they greet you the next day with their resonant, innocent laughter. All the while, mothers remain stoic and strong, fathers protective and proud.
I hoped for an expanded heart and an opened mind, but I will go home with so much more. Never have I experienced so much joy and so much giving from those with so little. I hope to carry this inspiration with me always. Thank you Rotaplast for this opportunity to fix smiles and change lives. In doing so, my life has been changed as well.