Post-Trip Reflection: Two different worlds on this planet
My decision to visit Guatemala was well thought out and planned, as I have been waiting for an opportunity to serve fellow humans who are suffering and do not have access to basic needs of life.
I discovered Humanity First as the organization with an exemplary record of reaching out to poor, deprived and needy regardless of their race, color or religion and as such, its mission and goal paralleled my objectives and aim. During this entire visit, I found Humanity First leadership and staff as professional, dedicated and hardworking, ready to provide assistance to the companion volunteers at any time.
I requested my father to accompany as I could utilize his wisdom, knowledge and past experience as a volunteer physician. He graciously accepted my request, despite his personal medical challenges, for which I am especially thankful to him.
In addition to rendering health care to the underprivileged, the best and unforgettable part of my visit was to coach and share some basic medical knowledge with the students from University of Houston. Their passion to help, and their eagerness to learn was commendable. Their appreciation and respectful conduct further motivated me to teach these young, yet intellectually mature minds. I observed each of them closely and found them empathetic, responsible and good listeners - qualities that are vital to become a good physician. I hope that this brief introduction to health care field will help these students towards selecting their career path.
With the help of these volunteer students, HumanityFirst staff on the ground, and local doctors engaged by Humanity First, we were able to see a large number of patients each day. While treating these patients it was very evident that there are two different worlds on this planet, one for the privileged receiving above and beyond and the others who are struggling for their basic needs. After watching this disparity one is forced to imagine how many resources are wasted each day in the rich and prosperous world
During my encounters with the patients, there were some emotional moments when they shared stories about their loved ones who lost their lives for no good reason but lack of means to transport them to a medical facility. Mothers had tears in their eyes when they shared how they lost their babies due to lack of medical care available at the time of delivery or soon after that. There were plenty of incidents where there were problems due to lack of education and understanding. Parents were administering inappropriate doses of medicine to their children and the dose of the medicine for example was not readjusted to child's new body weight.
At the end of this journey myself, and I am sure most of my co-volunteers, were thinking that this was a temporary assistance for this population, and what will happen after this? But then I thought - at least we made an attempt, treated few people and educated and counseled few people on healthy living. We saw thankful people waiving us goodbye, I remember children following our vans when we were leaving.
I found this visit as gratifying, fulfilling and educational. I left with the hope that one day good will prevail and the world will become a better place to live where every individual will at least be able to receive the essential needs of life and can live with dignity.
My father and myself enjoyed spending time and sharing knowledge with the students , and we wish all the volunteer students from University of Houston best of luck in their life and career. We are confident that in addition to supplementing their knowledge base, such life experiences will help them to become a kind and caring human beings.
- Dr. Mahmood Rana, Humanity First medical lead
Humanity First is registered in 43 countries across 6 continents, and has been working on human development projects and responding to disasters since 1994. These have included the earthquakes in Turkey, Pakistan, Japan and Iran, floods in Africa and Latin America, hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) , tornado's (Kansas) and wild fires (California) in the USA, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and conflicts in Eastern Europe.
Since its inception and IRS registration in 2004, Humanity First has been focused on spending most of the raised funds on direct program related expenses. As a result, more than 90% of its funds are in that expense category. This is achieved through dedicated volunteers in its management, and program operation teams.