Wyoming University has been coming to the small village of Agua Salada for many years. They built the clinic there and have developed a very rich and meaningful relationship with the local people. Generally they see a great many people while they are here, sometimes as many as 100 a day. The service that they offer is stellar. They are busy from start to finish with little time to relax or reflect.
They were in Agua Salada this past Holy Week. This brigade did not unfold in the same way as past brigades. In deference to Lemony Snicket and Jim Carrie, we experienced a series of unfortunate incidents. Shoulder to Shoulder was a bit taxed this year with eight groups arriving in the month of February. This was an all-hands-on-deck experience. Whereas, we were often very challenged, stretched, and stressed, we managed without making any major mistakes. However, we did not follow-up to insure that the promotion of the Wyoming brigade had taken place in Agua Salada. It was also Holy Week. Everyone, including our staff, has Holy Week off. So Wyoming had a very slow start and they did not see the tremendous numbers of people that they had in past visits.
Laura and I also traveled with the Wyoming brigade to Tegucigalpa for their flight out. On the night before their flight, we sat down to share in reflection on the participants’ experiences. Gratitude was a major theme; gratitude for the time and space to come to know the people of Agua Salada. The other theme present was the feeling that everyone had offered quality health care. I understood this as meaning that the service was offered with integrity and compassion.
I suspect that Wyoming brings their medical students to Honduras and Agua Salada in order to equip them with a Global Health Care experience. But this is not a box to be checked off on your resume of life. It is not accomplished by simply being there and doing the expected work. The satisfaction of coming to know another person from another culture in a foreign environment requires the willingness to give time, space, and respect. Wyoming sees a great many patients, but the real value they offer is in the quality of these encounters, and not their quantity.