September 20, 2011 | | Comments 1

August 2011: Testimonies from the field

Michelle Chung

Definitely had a good time at Mexico, not only working in lab for the past two days, but also getting close to everyone! Healing Hearts Across Borders definitely is a great program where we are able to help someone whether it be by giving food, playing with them, or providing basic medical care. It provided me an opportunity to appreciate what I already have and show me what I can do to make a huge difference in someone else’s life. A small deed goes a long way and it has truly been a blessing to be apart of the trip.

Kevin Kuo

This trip was a very eye opening experience especially the view from the top of the city dump hill where you could see both the dump and San Diego not too far off. It was incredible to see the difference in living conditions between the two within such close proximity to each other and how oblivious/naive most of us are.

Philip Habar

I am really glad that I followed up with you after receiving that first group email. This first trip for me to Mexico and with HHAB enlightened me to the need for medical services in community. I felt that the children at both locations showed the most appreciation for the care and time that we provided. Before we left the Dome, one girl that I had drawn blood from came around to the entire group to hug us good bye. That same girl had also been involved in helping unload and load the vans, which showed how big her heart was. The dump site had children with the same motivation to help us. I spent the majority of the day barbecuing with one boy, Benito, from the dump who was just as motivated to feed his community. All the children that I was able to speak broken Spanish with said that they were in school. I felt hopefully for their futures and saw how this organization helps to better their futures.

Matthew Deshong

It’s been less then 24 hours and I can’t stop thinking about the HHAB trip. My time this weekend was brilliant, thanks for such a great growing experience! These trips only further solidify my goals for the future & I’m so grateful I stumbled upon this organization.

Lawrence Chui

Mexico has always been a foreign land that I had little understanding of.  I have heard stories of some impoverished areas before, but I always assumed the stories to be exaggerated. It was until I saw for my own eyes that the stories I’ve heard are actually quite accurate. It was not shocking to me that poverty exists, but it was unbelievable that such poverty existed so close to San Diego. This experience was also extremely inspirational due to the many physicians, pharmacists, and volunteers who were willing to help complete strangers.

During my time there, I mainly helped in food preparation and food distribution. Seeing the gratitude of the people of Tijuana from a bit of food was extremely rewarding. I recall that at the end of the first clinic, a young girl approached many of the volunteers and thanked us in Spanish. That is when I knew that we were successful because the smile on her face told me that all of our hard work was appreciated and necessary.

Courtney Steinwachs

During dinner, everyone at our table bought some flowers from Rafael. This was my third trip and every time I have seen Rafael work very hard to earn money so that he can buy the insulin he needs to stay alive. This trip, however, was a little bit more touching because we were able to talk to Rafael personally and walk with him for a couple of blocks outside of the restaurant. During our conversation, he told me how the HHAB organization has not only saved his life, but supports him in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Rafael said that his rent costs about $30 per month, and he pays the rent for himself and his younger brothers. By selling flowers to the HHAB volunteers, Rafael made enough money to pay not only for his insulin for 3 months, but also enough to pay for 2 months of rent. This short conversation with Rafael made me realize that HHAB not only brings medical care to the people of Tijuana, but prevents Rafael and his brothers from being homeless on the streets of Tijuana.

Note:  The young man in this picture is our friend and long-time patient Rafael. He is a diabetic, and appeared in our clinic this trip with a blood sugar level 5 times normal. Unable to afford the insulin he needs, his future health picture is not good. HHAB has made arrangements to purchase his insulin for him, and to provide the testing supplies he needs to monitor his blood sugar at home.

Todd Linke

Thank you for providing me the opportunity to join HHAB this weekend.  I had no idea the powerful emotional impact it would have on me, nor the scope of the assistance that we would provide.  Today I have felt alternately happy that I could help and connect with the other volunteers, the families and especially the children, as well as sad that families are in such dire situations and that there is such an overwhelming need for our services.  But I look forward to helping again, and seeing new and familiar faces.

Bridgett Knowles

Trip highlights from a high school science teacher’s perspective (an Academy of Medical and Health Sciences at Mount Miguel High School teacher’s perspective to be more exact):

I had already sent a small handful of AMHS (Academy of Medical and Health Sciences) students down to volunteer with HHAB to “get an experience few other high schoolers even come close to experiencing”. It had been one students 5th or 6th trip when I told myself that if I am sending my kids down there, I need to get my booty down to Mexico to get the same experience myself. So I signed up for the summer 2011 trip.

The trip exceeded expectations on more than one front. Culturally, I got to be an outsider in an unfamiliar land. What an experience for a teacher that has classes FULL of students feeling the same way! And with me were my students who had a huge edge on me. They became my teachers! I LOVED that! Speaking of students, another unexpected wonderful surprise…interacting with so many AMAZING young minds! A teacher’s dream! I got to experience my students interfacing with science undergrads, medical students, lab techs, physicians, pharmacists, and dentists. And I got to interface with all these creative and brilliant people myself. The social component was something I hadn’t expected. Going outside my comfort zone (as I consistently advise my students to do) left me with an amazing experience I will likely remember for a lifetime. I went back across the border (after 1 and 1/2 hours waiting anyway!) with a global perspective, a developed sense of compassion and memories that were both happy and moving.

A few happy memories (besides making new friends) include:

I was aiding in clean up on the second day but couldn’t find any garbage bags. I asked Dr. Rose for some and he gave me some red biohazard bags instead. Using some candy as a bribe, I solicited the help of five youngsters waiting for their Moms at the pharmacy. When Dr Rose took a break from the lab, he just about had a heart attack when he saw little ones running around the site with biohazard bags! HA!

I was trained by an undergrad how to perform a finger prick and was able to use that skill for the first time to check the blood glucose of a young man I will never forget, Rafael. I am motivated and inspired to continue to support HHAB in any way possible, to be able to get kids like Rafael the insulin they literally need to survive.

A little tiny boy (maybe 3 years old) wandered up in to the lab on the first day. With my extremely limited Spanish, I thought he said he was lost and couldn’t find his Tia. I took him down to registration, where Kim translated that he actually had heard I had candy! I had given out some gummy vitamins to one of his family members and he wanted his share! Toooo cute!

The trip was one I will remember for a lifetime. I’m excited to both collaborate with and continue to support HHAB in to the years ahead. I am very appreciative of the opportunity they afforded both me and my students by allowing us to come with them.

Faith Barreyro

This was my first time joining HHAB on their medical trip to Tijuana, Mexico.  And if I could sum up in one word about this trip, it would be “phenomenal”.  I am blessed to have been part of something that changed the lives of the underserved.  Not only did it change their lives, but mine’s as well. I loved every moment of the trip.  As a pre-dental student, I finally got to get “my feet wet” into what I would like to do in the future, helping in the missions in other countries.  I’ve never experienced working with doctors and dentists and serving the Mexican people who are less fortunate than myself.  I don’t know if I could point out to any one particular “highlight” of the trip, but I think it was awesome how me and Aline had the dental section of the mission all to ourselves; and working with Dr. Turner, Odelia (Dr. Turner’s wife), and Dr. Choi was astounding!  I saw countless extractions on both days, and I hope to be able to do one on the next trip.  Thank you for the opportunity again Dr. Rose and Marilyn!! You two are awesome!

Joel Kaluzny

What I enjoyed most about this trip was seeing patients I recognized from previous trips.  We would exchange smiles/nods and broken English/Spanish.  It made me realize that our patients not only appreciate the services we provide to them, they appreciate us on a personal level.  I feel like I am beginning to develop relationships with some of the patients, and I think that is really cool.

Nathan Yu

I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to come on this HHAB trip. Some of the best moments: After the first day, a little girl came up to all of the volunteers behind the dome and gave us all a big hug and thanked us for coming. I think she really represented the gratitude and love the people in Tijuana showed and shared with us. But I’m sure the best memories are still to come from the relationships we can establish with the local people and the satisfaction that accompanies the knowledge that we can help children just like the little girl who shared her love with us.

I wasn’t able to talk much with you much because I was grilling hotdogs both days.  But I’m glad I did because I met alot of the people and saw how much they need our help. I am not signing up for the next trip at this moment because I don’t want to occupy a space when I’m unsure of midterm schedule for the fall. But I’ll send you another email soon about the November trip.  Thanks again

Melissa Yang

An important thing, I think about these HHAB trips, is that they provide so much help, hope, and heart for the poverty stricken people in TJ. For me as a premed student, I always thought the medical field was a glorified career that took place inside four nice clean, air conditioned walls called a hospital, and yes, that may be true, but what I saw from this HHAB trip is that the real glory and satisfaction of working in the medical field is seeing the faces of these people brighten with whatever little help they can receive from our effort, whether under a roof, under a tent or under the open sky.

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One Response to “August 2011: Testimonies from the field”

  1. Marilynn says:

    I finally sat down to read these shared experiences and I cannot express my gratitude enough for your stories and thoughts about the trip. It renews my spirit and commitment to support HHAB and to everyone who volunteers. It is you, the volunteers who make these trips meaningful and possible, without you it cannot be done to the level that is at each trip. You are so loved and appreciated. Thank you for all you do, Marilynn Ono

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