This is my sixth year as medical director on this trip. Each year has brought me new surprises. My 12-year-old daughter, Grace has watched me prepare for this trip, helping to fundraise, organize pharmaceuticals, and has genuinely wanted to come for several years. This year we were able to make that happen and she has been such a gift to us all here.
Today Grace was able to spend the day in the eyeglass room with Rabbi Abie, Maria and Jake. This is the room where every year miracles happen, and today was no exception. Every year we bring down a suitcase full of donated eyeglasses and when a patient in triage fails the eye chart, they are taken to the glasses room and the team will try to find the right pair for them. This is a tedious and trial and error endeavor. But amazingly each year we have miraculous stories of being able to find a pair that drastically improves the patient's vision. Grace got to take part in that today and witnessed what a life altering event that is for a person. Tears were shed, hugs were given and Grace will remember it forever.
As amazing as that moment was, it was made more phenomenal tonight when we were doing our medical debrief at dinner. We eat dinner each night in a private conference room in the hotel and while we eat we go around the table taking turns telling the whole group the highlights of the day, so everyone can get a sense of what kind of patient diagnoses they saw and what experiences they had. Well when it came to Grace's turn she opened up her journal and read what she had written about helping a person see today. She is such a poised and articulate person and her writing is beyond her years in age just like the rest of her. Well, she caused more than a few in the room to tear up and all of us were stunned by her telling of the story.
Just before we came on the trip Grace chose a book to read for her next English assignment at school. She chose to read Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Now keep in mind, she is 12. When I saw that she had chosen that book I was delighted but anxious at the same time. I was so indecisive in college I ended up getting a BA in English and a BS in biology because I could not decide which of my two interests I wanted to pursue, and Jane Austen was my favorite author. But she is a complicated writer and I was worried the book would be too complex for Grace. Boy was I wrong. Grace dove right into it that week. She asked lots of questions along the way, needing definitions of words and even reading some sentences out loud to me that she needed help deciphering. She loves the book and brought it on the trip to continue reading it. I know the word pride has different connotations, but watching Grace these past few days in Guatemala I am exceedingly proud of her. And as her mother, I know I am a bit prejudiced in my view of her, but I think she is one of the most remarkable 12-year-old girls on the planet. This week I am witnessing my own version of "Pride and Prejudice."
Lauri Pramuk, MD