Nina assisting to cast a young patient for a body jacket
This past summer I was fortunate to be able to work with Prótesis Para La Vida for 3 weeks in Ibarra, Ecuador. Over the course of my time there I had the pleasure of getting to know the staff as well as get good deal of exposure to different cases. As I have traveled to India nearly every year since I can remember, the living conditions, lifestyle, and overall ambiance were not shocking or new to me. I was, however, struck by the patients’ need for care and how few prosthetists are available to patients in Ecuador. While I could detail the many cases I was able to help with and be a part of, nothing struck me more than how in demand the staff at the clinic were, as well as our inability to help solve every single patient’s concerns. This realization was humbling-as a volunteer, one may expect to enter an environment and be able to help each person that walks through the clinic’s doors. However, there were some patients whom we could only help partially and not resolve all of their problems. In addition, there were some for whom we could entirely change their lives for the better. Accepting that one’s good will to help others cannot always be translated perfectly into the desired results is difficult, but necessary when working in such a field.
I found the work I was able to do at the clinic very rewarding. I helped with assessments, castings, and every part of the fabrication process. It is very inspiring and encouraging to also see the continuity of care at the clinic. Patients with whom the clinic had worked with in years past would keep coming back for checkups and new prostheses. The staff had a strong bond, connection, and memory of each patient that helped make the care provided feel more personal. Working with this organization was a great experience that I hope many more can partake in during the coming trips!
Nina Bondre, Student, Duke University