Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Ghandi

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jo's Nurses in El Remate, Guatemala

I initially applied for Jo´s Nurses because I wanted an experience that would change my life forever, cement my desire to get involved in humanitarian nursing, and to make a difference. I knew that this trip would make me appreciate life in so many more ways and so far, it certainly has. As nurses we are inherently compassionate people, but experiencing poverty in another country really forces you to open your heart, your mind, and your soul in a way you never thought was possible.
I was extremely excited prior to leaving for Guatemala. I don´t claim to be a seasoned traveler by any means, but I have traveled internationally in the past so I wasn´t too worried
about what I was going to be faced with. When I arrived in El Remate however, I had such complete culture shock. I wasn’t nearly as mentally prepared as I thought I was. I think as people we tend to shelter ourselves unknowingly, constantly gravitating towards familiarity and comfort. But the beauty of being human is that we have the ability to learn from all of our interactions with every single person that comes into our lives, even if it´s through a passing moment. Being a nurse is so incredibly rewarding because as much as we touch the lives of our patients, they touch ours as well. Everyone has a story. And the people of Guatemala certainly have their own to share.
Working at Ix-Canaan has been an unbelievable experience. It has been challenging, because there are no physicians here. What this means is that JP and I have been solely running the clinic, diagnosing, prescribing medication, and managing care for the people we have been seeing. We´ve seen everything, from a woman who had a systolic blood pressure in the 200s, to a woman who came in with a UTI. I think the most exciting experiences I have had so far was listening for a fetal heart rate using a Doppler and helping JP suture a full thickness laceration on a young man who had gotten into a bar fight the night before. These are things that I haven´t had the chance to do back at home. The most difficult part about this has been trying to think outside the box. Supplies are really limited here. It´s amazing how much we take for granted sometimes - things such as normal saline or syringes are so hard to come by. And so we have to be creative. We have to be resourceful. I have to think
in ways that I wouldn´t normally have to back at home. When a 15 year old pregnant teenager walked into the clinic, and I was told that this was very normal in Guatemala, I was forced to reevaluate my own expectations, judgments, and values.  I have, without a doubt, not only grown as a nurse here, but as a person as well.
I don´t think I was quite prepared for the level of poverty that I am seeing here in Guatemala. You hear about it and you read about it, but until you´re actually standing there, the reality of it just hits you like a brick wall. What I find incredible though, is that those that have nothing, in my opinion, have everything. They have so much happiness, love, and warmth. They are so full of life. The Guatemalan people have been such amazing hosts to us. They enjoy life´s simple pleasures and the beauty of every moment. It has been a true blessing to have this opportunity, and it´s something that I will never forget. The best part about all of this though, is that without a doubt in my mind, I will be back.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Anita is back from Ecuador!

Thanks to One Nurse At a Time and their scholarship program I was able to fulfill my dream of international volunteering.

 In February of 2014 I was given the gift and opportunity to travel to Esmeraldes, Ecuador with the Ecuadent Foundation.  The team of surgeons, anesthesiologist, operating room nurses, PACU nurses, equipment technicians and Spanish interpreters performed and provided care for approximately seventy patients. My most memorable moment would be witnessing the joy of the parents face when they saw their child after their cleft lip repair. Due to limited time, we were not able to provide services for all that came seeking, so it was difficult to see the faces of families that had to be turned away. Esmeraldes is a poor city of Ecuador. The people have very little money and possessions, but they have something money can not buy. They have a strong spirit, love for their family, country and culture. 
The people of Esmeraldes gave me more than I could ever give them. I provide pre and post anesthesia care for newborn to18 years of age in the United States. I have seen an increase in Spanish families that speak very little to no English. Being in Ecuador and not having the ability to fully communicate due to my limited Spanish, at times I felt alone and isolated. I now have the experience of understanding how my Spanish families may surely feel here in the United States. I love the country and people of Ecuador. They will always have a special place in my heart. It is my plan and dream to continue volunteering my nursing skills to those in need. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THE GIFT OF GIVING!!

Anita Sawczenko

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Meet our latest scholarship recipient.

My name is Anita and I'm proud to be a recipient of One Nurse At a Time scholarship. I've been an active participating nurse for approximately 30 years at University of Maryland Medical Center. Of those years, 25 was spent in the neonatal intensive care nursery. I'm currently working in the pediatric post anesthesia recovery unit. I provide pre and post anesthesia nursing care for infants to 18 years  in a out patient and in patient setting. I have dedicated my entire nursing career to pediatrics. I received my Associate of Arts degree in nursing from Catonsville Community College. I have volunteered with my community church by providing meals for the homeless, gathering donated and packing of non-perishable items for families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It has always been a passion of minds to volunteer on an international level. Now that I have two adult children, I feel it's my time to fulfill that dream. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, going to the movies and dining out. I took  ballet in college and just decided to resume as a recreation . I'm looking forward to helping others around the world. I know they will give me far more than I could ever give them. Blessed for this opportunity.