Since many of the surgeries performed by the team are for children, there are two Paediatricians with us: Dr. Collin Yong from Vancouver, and Dr. Faruqa Ladha from Calgary. These two provide the specialized experience and compassionate care that guides the surgeons and the rest on the team in their treatment planning.
Dr. Yong has been on over 20 missions since 2000 in many parts of the world, including (in addition to Africa) South America, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and others. “I enjoy the work, and I have the skills” says Collin, pointing out that mission work is not for everybody. There are so many ways in which all of the medical team must adapt and innovate, and the absence of many of the sophisticated instruments and resources that would be available at home makes the job too stressful for some.
Collin, also a past Rotarian, understands the value in training that is an important part of the current mission. Both he and Faruqa teach and guide the local doctors and ward nurses both through direct instruction and by example. In his many missions abroad, Collin has experienced two types of medical mission. One type is for medical relief, where a team provides acute care for those in need while they are there. The other type provides a sustainable approach to medical treatment, not only treating those in need but also instructing local professionals in the methods and best practices that have been learned in western medicine. As this mission is largely funded through a Rotary International Global Grant, sustainability is a requirement.
Faruqa, who received her Paediatric specialty 3 years ago (this is a 4-year program following the M.D.) is on her first mission trip. “Sure”, she says, “there are fewer resources, but I am struck by the impact of the little things!” Her warmth and caring touch provides the example in treatment discussed above, as she believes she can teach strategies through her methods. For example, changing the dressings post-op on a toddler can be terrifying for the little one. The direct and efficient approach used locally would be to just get it done as quickly as possible with one professional restraining the child while the other changes the dressing. Faruqa instead brought out her page of stickers, and proceeded to amuse the child with the colorful characters thereby distracting him while the dressing was changed. Or the time when she held the hand of a 3-year old girl during her dressing change, speaking warmly (sure, it wasn’t her language!) and maintaining eye contact. When that procedure was finished the little one leaned over and kissed her.
Just one more component in an amazing team of professionals!
– Peter Schultz & Dina Kotler