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First Time Reflection

Reflections of a First-Time Volunteer

“My name is Julio. I am a 60-year-old Spanish speaker, and I was about to embark on a first-time-for-me type of experience. As a business finance professional, I am accustomed to planning and being well prepared. And while I’ve known of Somos Amigos Medical Missions for many years, as my children have participated over many years, I really didn’t know what to expect. I felt unprepared and to a certain extent feared disappointing the group.

But shortly after my arrival in Santiago, my doubts were erased quickly by Frank’s warm reception. The enthusiasm and energy of the group of fellow volunteers were contagious. Soon I learned that I was not the only one without medical or technical skills, and that yes, maybe I could be helpful after all.

The experience continued to get even better as the next day we arrive at El Naranjito, where Dolores, “the town matriarch” and our host, received us with open arms and was genuinely happy to see the “team” once again.

The atmosphere at the clinic, from day one and every day after that, was 100% full of positive energy. On day one, everyone was happily helping out in whatever needed to get done: whether it is counting pills to get the pharmacy ready for the next day, starting up the computers, organizing records or setting up the visiting rooms. Each day the rest of the week, though very busy and long, flew by.

I returned home more energized and with a renewed sense of hope in humanity. I often wonder who got more out of my week in El Naranjito.”

Julio N. Mazzarella