By Maha Ali
On January 4, 2016, a group of Purdue students had the incredible opportunity to travel to Honduras. This group of 11 girls chose to go to the developing nation as part of a medical mission trip, sponsored by a Purdue organization, Caduceus Club. The trip was a life-changing experience for everyone that participated as it demonstrated how important giving to those in need is.
Day-to-Day life in Honduras is held in stark contrast to that of the United States. The overall quality of life in Honduras is much poorer than in the States. Many of the public hospitals in Honduras have very limited medical equipment. The Purdue students on the medical mission trip witnessed patients having to share beds with one another with little to no access to pain medications of any kind. Observing the standard of living that many Hondurans had to face made the trip an immense learning experience for all involved and made giving back to the Honduran communities much more important.
The Purdue students started their week of service by travelling to different villages and opening health clinics for the people there. Nicole Griffin, a senior at Purdue, says “I took their blood pressure, passed out medications they needed, helped with procedures like removing teeth, and prescribed eye glasses.” She describes the trip as inspiring and states “I was able to impact almost 1200 people medically, and give them medical treatment that some hadn’t received in years.” Melanie Baumgart, a sophomore on the medical trip, describes the process as rewarding and states “Everyone was so appreciative of what we had to give, even if it wasn’t much. They were incredibly grateful and I have never witnessed people that were so humble and gracious.”
For Baumgart, the effects of the trip were long-lasting, both mentally and physically as she may have even contracted the Zika virus. The virus is mosquito-borne and lasts 10-12 days in the body. The symptoms of the virus consist of a rash and fever, both of which are treatable, but it has a detrimental impact on women who are pregnant. The virus does cause poor pregnancy outcomes such as microcephaly in babies whose mothers were infected with the virus. Baumgart was never able to confirm that she had the virus as very few laboratories in the United States are able to test for the Zika virus. She states, however, that it was clinically determined that she likely had the virus. Fortunately for Baumgart, she is now completely treated and is doing very well.
When asked if she would ever go on this trip, Baumgart does not hesitate and immediately says “Yes!” She and the other girls agree that this trip was an incredible life-changing experience that really demonstrated how privileged life in the United States really is. Each of these 11 girls was able to make a difference in over 1000 people’s lives, and that in itself is one of life’s greatest rewards.