Operation Esperanza in Ecuador
Operation Esperanza in Ecuador
The volunteer trip, known as Operation Esperanza, which means Operation Hope in Spanish, is organized through the Rotary International and EMAS* (education, medical aid and services.
The volunteer trip, known as Operation Esperanza, which means Operation Hope in Spanish, is organized through the Rotary International and EMAS* (education, medical aid and services. https://www.emascanada.org/ ). The groups consist of a medical and dental team. The medical team has been going to Cuenca, Ecuador for the past 22 years. The team has an orthopedic group who do corrective surgeries such as knee & hip replacements and surgery on children with a medical condition known as “Club’s Feet”.
The medical team also has many nurses and physiotherapist. The medical team is led by Edmonton’s well-known orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Thomas Greidanus, who has recently received the Meritorious Service Cross from the governor general for his work and contribution to operation Esperanza. The medical team did 49 surgeries in 5 days this year! During their time there, the surgeons take in Ecuadorian surgeon students who help out and learn procedures.
The dental team has been going for the past 16 years and is led by Dr. Dan Van-Berkel. It consists of 3 dentists, 2 dental hygienists including myself, and many dental assistants. This year the team saw 285 patients in 5 days! It was extremely exhausting, physically and mentally but very rewarding. During our time there, we also take in Ecuadorian dental students who help out, learn and are guided by Dr. Van Berkel, myself and the other dental professionals.
Our first 3 days, we went to a school located in Tarqui, Ecuador, where access to health care is limited. The minute we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by many excited kids giving us hugs and helping us unload 23 heavy hockey bags full of dental equipment. This moment brought me to tears; it was so touching seeing how helpful and excited the children were for our health service. So many people here in Canada take this for granted. I did about 100 preventative sealants on these children and took time to teach them how to properly brush (Sealants are protective fillings on teeth to prevent them from getting cavities).
The 4th day we went to the hospital where we saw the patients who were going to get surgeries – it is very important to do an oral assessment on patients who are going into the operatory room; having an infected tooth or severe bacteria in your mouth can cause knee/hip surgery failure or post-operatory infections.
Our final day, we were at a homeless shelter which was very rewarding. The best moments in these 5 days were when patients cried and gave us hugs for helping them with their pain or the kids giving us hugs and saying “gracias”.
I am very humbled to have had this opportunity. Dr VB has asked me to come again next year, and I hope to go again. Being able to do this trip, has opened my eyes into national and international healthcare systems. I hope to someday do my Masters in Public Health or Health Science and take on a similar yet different role in humanitarian affairs and health care services.
* EMAS Canada is a movement of Christ-centred healthcare teams proclaiming God’s love to all the world through healing and teaching.
Selda Süleymanoğlu / Notre Anatolie / March 06th, 2019