I don’t know how she does it alone. Silvia, the doctor I have the pleasure of working with this semester, is a 25-year-old native of Cochabamba, Bolivia who loves working with the children at Ceoli; her passion for her job is evident in her interactions with the children. Her weakness is she only has two hands. With nearly 200 children who are constantly sick or hurting themselves as well as in need of basic regular medical care she needs another set or two of hands. Additionally, many of the children cannot talk or walk because of their disabilities and many of the children do not understand why they are receiving a certain treatment; be it a nebulizer treatment or the bandaging of a wound. This makes it particularly difficult to administer the treatment without further complicating the situation. This semester on Wednesdays and Fridays I am doing what I can to provide that extra set of hands.
One morning I had the pleasure of meeting a small boy named Jose; unfortunately it was not in the most pleasant of circumstances. Jose had smashed his fingers in a door at his house leaving a hideous gash in his fingers.
“Valiente” (Brave) Silvia whispered again and again as she cleaned the wound. She spoke the truth: despite getting more stitches than he could possibly count on his blood stained fingers he never shed a tear. He did however understandably succumb to the pain and tried to pull his hand away. I held both his hands: his right hand steady so Silvia could sew the stitches and his left hand to comfort him in a small but seemingly significant way.
Siliva later recounted the difficulty of administering treatments to children who do not want the treatment they are receiving because they do not understand that it is to help them. As she had emphasized, Jose was brave, but others are not. One boy threw a fit in protest of a nebulizer treatment he desperately needed.
I tell the story of Jose because, when I asked Siliva the most important things I do to help are she emphasized the little things like providing that extra set of hands that are needed and I think Jose’s case exemplifies these little things. Sometimes making a difference in small ways adds up.