An Emotional Farewell

Today was our last day in Cuenca, and the last day of our medical mission. We arrived at the hospital early to check in on our patients and complete one final ‘Ward Walk’ with the entire True North Team. We wanted to say goodbye to each and every patient, and thank them for the wonderful impression they have all made on our lives.

As we proceeded from bed to bed, emotion filled the rooms and there was more than one tearful moment. One patient noticed the doctor who had operated on her and immediately burst into joyful tears, throwing herself into his arms and thanking him profusely. Her tearful husband followed closely behind, so grateful that the love of his life would no longer have to wake up with pain each day. Another patient brought out a letter she had translated to English, and offered it to the team. We all stood around and listened while our leader, Dr. Powell, read her gracious words of thanks, with few dry eyes in the room. Touchingly, a few patients even offered us handmade gifts- small, but meaningful tokens of gratitude which would normally use to produce income.

The appreciation of those we have helped was enough to fill our hearts. The greatest reward of all, however, is always to watch our patients walk out the hospital doors, ready for new opportunity. These people will now have the opportunity to marry, work and have families.

12 patients will be discharged this morning, leaving only 5 for a slightly extended hospital stay until they have progressed far enough into their recovery to go home. We have brought in a few local physiotherapists, who spent a few days with our team learning our recovery methods, to work with this patients until they are able to go home.

What a beautiful end to a mission that required tenacity, hard work and stamina from our team. After sending two truckloads of hockey bags to storage and the airport, our members gathered their personal belongings and walked a final time from the hospital to the hotel. Throughout the remainder of the day, we shared our appreciations with each other and reflected on the week. We all agreed that we are so proud of our collective group for pushing through and working so hard to help all of those we committed to- we can sleep when we get home. We all feel so blessed that we have the collective skill to help these people, and blessed that we have a network of supporters at home that make this mission possible. We were reminded many times this week to be glad that we know where our next meal is coming from, glad that we have access to medical care when we need it, glad that we have opportunities to work and prosper in Canada, and glad that we having loving families and friends in our lives.

Exhausted but satisfied, we packed our bags and began our long journey home.

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