Editor’s Note: Three professional pharmacy students joined David Gregory, associate dean for academic affairs, and 23 other volunteers on a medical mission trip to Copan, Honduras this summer. Tate Davis, Christine Hayden and Mary Claire Jarrell managed pharmacy services in clinics that assisted more than 2,000 patients. This is Christine’s story.
Many people say that going on a mission’s trip will change your life forever. When they say this, you nod, yet take it for granted until it happens to you. This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Copan, Honduras on a medical mission’s trip with Global Ministries. To say that my life has been changed is an understatement.
It’s hard to pinpoint one experience that was my favorite or that stood out the most, but it’s easy to say that my favorite part of the trip was the people. The patients that we saw at the clinics were truly amazing. The people of Honduras have little to none, yet are the happiest and most passionate people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
In addition to the people of Honduras, the team that we worked with throughout the week were remarkable, selfless and hardworking individuals. Everyone worked together and helped in any way they could.
One of our team members was named Antony. Antony is a 17-year old young man who is from the Copan area. He was the pharmacy translator for the week, and let me say, this was not the easiest task. Who knew that you could mess up the Spanish word for “vitamin,” which by the way, is “vitamina,” for five clinics in a row—but somehow it can be done!
Antony attended the bilingual school of Honduras and expressed how he couldn’t wait to attend their University in a couple of years to begin to study medicine. Each clinic day was unique, yet some similarities were present such as the crowds of patients, language barriers and heat. This could potentially cause for a stressful environment, yet Antony never was overwhelmed or tired. Instead, he was eager to learn. Any down time we had he would ask me to teach him about the medicines and the diseases that we were treating.
Antony and I talked about all sorts of conditions such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and Antony’s personal favorite, “acid reflux.” Anything we would discuss with him, he wanted to know more and asked many directed questions so that he could gain as much knowledge as he possibly could. Antony would often tell me that he wanted to learn as much as he could before he went to medical school. So many times we forgot Antony was just 17! He truly showed an appreciation for learning as well as the gift of service.
We often get caught up in our mundane every day tasks or think ahead of the next test we have to study for, or the next meeting we need to attend, or even, what time we are getting out of rotations. Antony was a beautiful reminder of what patient care, including pharmacy, is all about.
On our final day in Honduras, the team traveled back towards the airport to depart the next morning, but on our way we stopped at the city’s central market. Antony never left our side as we picked up souvenirs to take back home. We repeatedly told Antony we wanted to get him a souvenir so that he could remember us by; Antony quickly responded, “I don’t need anything to remember you by, I will always remember you all.”
Antony is someone I will never forget. He reminded us all what it’s like to love to learn, and to love well the people that we serve. It’s not about the tests, assignments, or meetings, it’s about the patient and how we can impact someone else. Antony didn’t even know how much he impacted me, but he did. Just as he told us during our time at the central market, no physical gift will ever allow me to forget the gift of meeting Antony, the team we worked with, and the people of Copan.