By Dr. Kyle Varner, MedGlobal Medical Volunteer
I had the great privilege of volunteering at the MedGlobal clinic in Cucuta, Colombia to provide medical care for Venezuelan refugees. It was the most meaningful work I have done in medicine, by far. This clinic is unique among humanitarian projects in its continuous presence. Local physicians operate there as permanent staff so that patients can receive ongoing follow-up care.
My presence as an Internist meant that I could provide consultations, create a plan of care that local doctors would implement, and feel confident that my patients had the necessary support.
The cases I saw in the clinic were shocking. I had never seen a case of parasites in real life but I saw many during my time in Cucuta. I saw diseases that advanced in ways one seldom sees in the United States. The opportunity to provide care to patients who desperately needed it was personally gratifying.
One case stood out to me in particular. A 77-year-old blind man from Caracas got sick, and couldn’t find any medical care in Caracas. He and his wife sold all of their belongings and got on a bus. They only had enough money for a one-way ticket. They had no money in their pockets and they slept on the street outside of our clinic. When I saw the man, he was in rough shape. Thankfully, I was able to treat his condition. We were also able to connect him and his wife to other humanitarian organizations that provided them with a place to stay and food to eat.
Their lives are still shattered, as are the lives of most of the one million refugees in Cucuta. But we made a difference for him and his wife. They are suffering less, thanks to our work. It makes me proud to have played a role in making a difference.
MedGlobal is a great organization that is providing meaningful humanitarian relief all over the world while easing the suffering of people. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to work with MedGlobal, and I look forward to continuing to support MedGlobal’s efforts around the world. I will be back in Cucuta soon!
Working in medicine can be demoralizing. While working long shifts at a hospital in the United States, you know that if you quit, they can just hire some “other guy.” But in MedGlobal’s medical relief, there is no “other guy.” We either step up and help our fellow human beings, or nobody does. I am committed to helping refugees all over the world. There is no better feeling than making a difference for someone who needs it.
Venezuelans are suffering terribly. I was aware of this before embarking on my mission in Cucuta but seeing it with my own eyes brought me to a new level of understanding. When I see a refugee, I see myself if I were born in a different place. They are human beings just like me, with hopes and dreams, families and friends. Thank you, MedGlobal, for allowing me to make a difference.