The following is a blog post by Susan Clement, one of PRHDR’s volunteers, about her first day with us.
“My first day in clinic. A very proud grandma.”This one, she wants to be a doctor,” Grandma said, describing her six-year-old granddaughter.
Smiling wide. I agreed with her. Yes, she’s smart enough. The tiny girl sat at the table with a pad of paper, listening and printing names of nursing students, as she heard them. Mine too. Seeing these families, generations living together. The children are loved, well cared for, clean clothes, groomed with barrettes in hair. It’s meaningful to see that. Yes, we are here for a day,in this village. Yet it’s also reassuring that there’s support in place, across the generations, to carry on. In community health nursing, we’re given the privilege of meeting the families of our patients. We’re fortunate to be invited in to see these sweet relationships.
My second day in clinic. A tender moment with an eager boy. “Abre la boca,” I said, ready to apply fluoride to his teeth. The small boy stood in front of me, attentive, posture still and straight as a soldier. Me sitting on the chair, I could look directly at his face. I think he’s probably no more than five. So ready to please. Trusting me as I do this crazy thing, using a paintbrush the size of a toothpick, dipping it into the cup of fluoride, to “paint” onto his teeth. How is it tasting to him? No sign from him that it’s unpleasant. And this moment warmed my heart. Then I notice something, black spots, on many of his teeth.
Cavities? Yes, I know cavities, my kids have had cavities, I’ve had them, but they were caught by the dentist, by X-ray. We didn’t reach the stage of seeing black spots. This endearing boy, who a moment ago was giving me a precious trip down memory lane of my own son when he was this age, now I’m realizing a big difference in how this little boy’s life is different. I finish the painting, announce, “muy bien, hemos terminado”, good job, we’re done. He’s looking at me, we exchange smiles, universal language for happiness. I offer him my sticker selection. He chooses the blue star, and a blue toothbrush to match. I’m grateful to have this experience and I’m grateful to be able to reflect on what I have to be thankful for.
What a privilege to serve him and receive that smile from him. I’m thankful for that too.”
Susan Clement, volunteer, RN.
For more information about PRHDR’s programs, please check out www.prhdr.org.