Medical mission trip to Bolivia
By Connor Tierney
This past summer, I joined a group of Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College students on a medical mission trip to Bolivia. The trip was organized through the Highlands Bolivian Mission, an effort founded by Dr. John Baumrucker, a family practitioner from Highlands, North Carolina. The mission’s purpose is to provide medical services, equipment and funding to local hospitals in the town of Montero. The mission has also established a foster home for local boys in need. It was here where I stayed during my two weeks in Montero.
While at the foster home, I had the opportunity to get to know some of the boys through long games of soccer and time spent playing music. Their enthusiasm for music was the product of the hard work put in by Les Scott, a member of the mission who had provided the home with musical instruments ranging from guitars to pan flutes. Teaching guitar to some of the boys was one of the highlights of my trip as it was a way to breach the language barrier and connect to the foster children through the common denominator of our love for music.
When we were not at the foster home, we were in the heart of Montero, where we distributed medical supplies to the local hospitals and were able to shadow some of the local physicians. Seeing the state of their medical infrastructure was truly eye-opening as the economic disparity that exists within humanity was brought to our full attention. We also set up several stations around the town, where we offered free diabetes and hypertension screenings. These basic medical tests had a large number of locals lined up to take advantage of the service. The people were nothing short of welcoming and gracious, an attitude that was contagious and made the time spent there exceptionally enjoyable. I plan on returning to Montero, Bolivia, one day to continue to serve such an incredible community.