A Breath of Fresh Air: International Volunteer
Anne Guion is a pediatric nurse who is volunteering with CMMB in Kenya. Before joining CMMB, she worked as an acute care pediatric nurse in urban Chicago focusing on the healthcare of low-resource families. She is especially interested in the effects of resource distribution on chronic disease and the application of unique healthcare models in specific populations to improve patient outcomes.
The following are excerpts of several different posts where Anne shares her ideas, thoughts, and ponderings. She gives us much to think about and then asks for our help with a very important project.
I want to fall in love with life again. People ask me over and over what I was thinking when I accepted my volunteer placement in Kenya. I wanted to serve, but I had personal reasons too. I had a great life in Chicago. An amazing job, wonderful friends who were (and still are) family, beautiful patients that I laughed and cried with every day.
But something was missing.
I was always looking for something. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and look out my window over the city and just wonder: what is it? Sometimes I would just drive and drive and not speak to a single person all day. I would ride my bike in Lake Geneva. I would walk out onto the cement piers that stretched out over the icy lake and just look at the expanse that was the sky and I would wonder: what am I doing? Why am I here?
And that’s when I decided to say goodbye to my life in Chicago and all the comforts I was accustomed to, to embark on this adventure as a volunteer with CMMB.
If you have never been to Kenya or any developing country for that matter, it’s hard to imagine how difficult life is. Life here takes a great deal more effort.
But every day, I live.
I had a great day yesterday. I saved a life. I laughed. I cried. I had faith. I boosted someone’s confidence and worked as a team. I did something new.
I took the matatu to point B and saw the most beautiful flowers along the way. I walked alone to the market and got to see the kids who went to school together sharing a popsicle with the green juice dripping from their laughing mouths into the dirt. I went grocery shopping and did everything I needed to do in Swahili. I met a new friend while doing my laundry.
I lived today – and I think I loved it.
I can call, and call, and call all day, all across the country looking for hospital beds for our babies and children and some hospitals won’t even pick up the phone anymore. So we do our best with what we have, and sometimes it goes well. But sometimes I have to tell parents that the future of their family is going to look drastically different.
The thing is, St. Francis has the capability to provide intensive care. We have nurses trained in ICU care. We have a gorgeous, brand new hospital building ready for use with adult and pediatric intensive care, and a plan to overhaul our current nursery to allow it to provide high dependency care. But…
this is where you come in.
I am currently trying to raise funds to buy desperately needed equipment for babies who may be our smallest patients, but are the ones who are going to have the largest impact on our community’s future. To show you how much I believe in this and to help get us started, I have personally donated $2,000 to purchase a CPAP machine, which will allow us to provide a higher level of respiratory support to our premature infants, neonates in respiratory distress, and children up to five years of age suffering from respiratory illnesses who are not being well supported on oxygen alone.
Hopefully, we will start saving lives by the end of this month! But I need your help.
I will end with the words of Mother Theresa:
“The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.“