The Journey Begins
For starters, my suitcase has closed.
This is no small matter. Tomorrow at 5 a.m., I will meet up with my fellow Global Health team members at the Philadelphia Airport, where we will embark on our trip to Consuelo in the Dominican Republic.
Each of us will carry two suitcases: one for our personal belongings, the other filled to bursting with medications, children's vitamins, syringes, gloves, IV fluids and equipment - the supplies needed to stock the local clinic that serves hundreds of Dominican children living in extreme poverty.
Over the next two weeks, the team will provide direct care for upwards of 700 children, as well as education for families and local care providers. Our travel team of about a dozen people include physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and me.
For two months leading up to this day, we've attended orientation meetings to prepare for the experience. The clinical staff have boned up on how to assess malnutrition and identify infectious diseases with minimal diagnostic resources. We've had thought-provoking discussions about cultural sensitivity and our roles as guests in Consuelo. Everyone has prepared informal talks that will help volunteers in the community learn skills they can use long after the team leaves.
Finally, it's the eve of departure, and my very large, very loaded suitcase has successfully closed. Just barely. I look forward to sharing the team's experiences with you over the course of our journey.