Reflections – Pia Buckingham
The team that I worked with included some who had been on previous surgical missions to Bangladesh, most of us however had not. (Adventure Travel here we come)!
Although I have had a reasonable amount of international travel under my belt, I was taken aback by the abject poverty, overcrowding, the prevalence of some very interesting aromas and the complete lack of adherence to any form of road rules.
Whilst travelling by bus for many hours on the roads, I viewed very picturesque agricultural landscapes.
I found myself being at the centre of attention on some occasions in public, due to being the only blonde in the group and perhaps the only blonde the local people had ever seen, this attention was mostly fine except when someone pinched me on the arm to see if I was a real person and not a ghostly apparition.
I have difficulty in measuring the amount of self fulfilment and pride that I feel, in having assisted the surgical patients to achieve a normality in their lives, that otherwise would not have been possible.
It was incredible that we could change a persons life forever and for the better in the space of a couple of hours.
I feel humbled by my experience in Bangladesh.
At times it was mentally and physically demanding, but any sacrifices that I have made were well worth it. It was an experience that I will never forget.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have served the international community as an ambassador of Australia and to have been a positive role model for the Bangladeshi surgical teams, at the Land Hospital (Jibon Mela) and the Boat Hospital (Jibon Tari).
I would like to thank Barbie and Hasan for their tireless work on the Aussi Bangla Smile Project, they are an inspiration to everyone.
Donabad (Thank you)
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