Medical Mission team members are being interviewed for our parish bulletin. This week we feature Maria de Miguel, MD, MS for a look at how she is involved in OLMC’s first Medical Mission.
In my daily work I teach medicine, mentor residents, and practice general internal medicine in the neighborhood of Washington Heights, NYC. Before medical school, I was blessed to have the opportunity to live and work as a teacher in a rural and very poor part of the Dominican Republic. I lived with two Sisters of the Holy Child, who taught me the beauty and grace of living and working with people in their daily struggles and hardships. During this year, I learned more from the joy, resilience, and kindness of the people I worked with than I could ever have taught them. I also had the opportunity to help with medical situations and health teaching, and I learned a lot about how health care and public health function in a rural Latin American setting. My current work in NYC allows me to work with patients from all over the world, and I am so grateful for the time I had in the Dominican Republic to prepare me for the types of challenges I face with my patients every day.
I moved to Tenafly with my family the same week that Fr. Dan began as our pastor. I felt it to be a sign when Fr. Dan brought up the idea of a medical mission to the community. Given my work and family commitments, I have not had the opportunity to travel or work abroad for many
years. It was an easy decision to get involved, as it was an opportunity to get to know people in our parish and to help plan the scope and details of the mission, but also looking forward to a time to connect with people in an underserved Latin American community again. I have helped with the planning for the medical care we can provide in a short time while we are there, in terms of what conditions we are likely to see, what medications we will need, and what kinds of follow up plans we will need to arrange. The challenge in planning for the trip from a medical perspective lies in the uncertainties of what we will see when we are there and what we can accomplish in a short time with limited resources. Our hope is to be able to ease suffering when possible, teach and provide health information, and most importantly bring the love and concern of our parish to this community in Peru.
In our planning, I have been really impressed with the faith and commitment of my co-parishioners. It is really inspiring to see how ready and willing everyone in the group is to volunteer their time, energy and skills. This is a leap of faith for all of us, as despite our extensive planning, there will undoubtedly be challenges. Being outside our comfort zone of complete certainty is a challenge for all of us, but also an act of faith and trust in God and in each other. Bringing your skills and talents to the parish community brings back joy and a sense of purpose much greater than the cost of time that it requires. Thank you to all from the parish who have supported us in the mission with your resources and prayers. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve in this mission.