Our final day in Apan was a busy, but very gratifying one, enhanced by a visit to one of Mexico's most treasured architectural sites. However, there was much to do before departing Apan.
We held our final clinic in which the pediatricians, surgeons, nurses, and dentists evalutated many of the returning patients, removed stitches and bandages, and consulted them as to how they were feeling and diagnosed any effects from the procedures from the previous 8 days. Some patients and families repeated journeys of many miles to see our team one last time. Surprisingly, we had more than we expected and many greeted us with smiles and hugs of gratitude.
Some of us went on another assignment. On medical missions, one never knows what can happen. Earlier in the week we had been approached by a teacher and his wife who wished to know if any of our team members could come to their school to talk about the importance of education, which we were honored to do.
While some teachers had become jaded to the prospect of a higher dropout rate, Saul, a teacher in his late forties, who was born in Apan, was doing whatever he could to combat students leaving school. When we arrived, we were told to wait a few minutes in the principal's office, as the students were assembling. When we finally entered the hall, we were greeted by more than two hundred students and their teachers, and a dais had been set up "Oprah style" for the esteemed visitors from los Estados Unidos. With Saul providing translation, we told the students our own life stories, and how lifelong education had been a cornerstone of our success. We also told them to set their goals high and to remain undeterred from achieving the highest level of education possible to achieve their dreams.
After a brief but earnest question and answer period (So how long do you study to become a doctor? What are your hopes for the nation of Mexico? If you are giving your services for free, how do you live?) it was time for an enthusiastic picture session, and warm good byes.
As we rode back to the team hotel with Saul, both of us reflected on the visit to the school as being an unexpectedly treasured moment at the very end of our mission in Apan. And we also wondered if, because we went the extra mile to make time for the visit, we had changed at least one life, in ways that had nothing to do with medicine.
8 Year old Teresa Fernandez
Dr. Stan Bloustine removing her bandages
Comforting a a child
Learning the value of education
Our team on last morning