Tamil Nadu (Southeast), India
Leprosy Colony – wound care and dressings, assessments
K-10 School children – immunizations, lice treatments, physical assessments, health teaching
Several Indian temples and ruins, Bay of Bengal
"I have learned many lessons from working in India with leprosy patients and their children but one “ahh moment” seems to remain in the forethought of my memory. Our outreach medical unit traveled daily to various colonies where leprosy afflicted patients live in very humble and poor conditions. After the long drive, the medical team consisting of doctors, nurses and lay volunteers would set up the clinic under a tree, in a community center or on a porch, or where ever we could find a flat, protected piece of ground. Then colony members would start arriving and lining up to receive services. One day it was particularly difficult with a seemingly endless line of people requiring feet washing, bandage changing and wound debridement. I was hot, tired and hungry, wondering if we were even making a dent in the long line of people seeking help. Focusing on my patient’s foot wound, the chaos around me, the strange language in my ears, and hoards of people pressing on me, I had the thought to look up at my patient. I looked up and saw a grateful, smiling woman encouraging me.
I then realized the potential of a smile and discovered the meaning of our work.
This single moment was so powerful for me that now when I see my students in a similar situation, kneeling on the ground in the middle of a crowd of people, debriding wounds with sweat dripping down their faces and looking only at the wound, I remind them to “Look up and see the face of the wound” . I believe looking at the faces of our patients and really seeing them, as people not wounds or procedures, gives meaning to our nursing service and the ability to see people as God see us, as his children. "