Stories of Inspiration
Patti Oakley went on her first clinic trip with Project C.U.R.E. in August 2013. That sold her on the value of what they were doing. Since then, she has tried to do four a year, racking up 22 trips before the Covid crisis caused a temporary halt. She is hopeful that her 23rd trip, scheduled to India in October will happen.
How Patti got to this place in her life is an interesting journey. “I was a medical technician before I had children. Then I worked at a high school for a number of years in IT. I decided that when I retired, I wanted to get back into a medical field. My kids had volunteered for Project C.U.R.E. as sorters, so I knew about them. I started looking for medical travel opportunities and found out about Project C.U.R.E.’s clinic trips.”
That was all it took. She retired and went back to school to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). She graduated in May of 2013 and did her first clinic trip that August. One trip led to another. She has no plans to stop doing these anytime soon.
When asked why she is so crazy about Project C.U.R.E.’s clinic trips, she cites several reasons:
- Some of the people we see in these remote areas need the care so desperately and wouldn’t have received it if we weren’t there. We are doing so much good. By getting these patients seen, we are then able to connect many of them to the local medical personnel to follow up if necessary. We usually work side by side with the local providers so our presence adds credibility to the local system.
- I like traveling with people who like to do this kind of work, like young nurses using their paid time off to make such a big difference.
- I really like to see and relate to the people in these countries, especially our in-country partner organizations that are so passionately committed to the welfare of their people. You make friendships and want to go back and see these people, again and again, to see how they are doing.
One country she thinks fondly of is Paraguay. The effort the local people put into the clinic trips was so inspiring to her: “One of my first trips, four people drove nine hours to the remote place we were at to translate for us. Those translators were so impressed with our work that they became the sponsors for the second trip, in addition to translating. Then one of our translators from that trip took vacation time so she could translate for us on the third trip!”
What’s involved with taking a clinic trip?
Commitment to the mission of these trips has to come from all participants. Medical personnel who go, for the most part, fund their own way. That may involve fundraising for the trip or pay out of pocket, but all the money needed to fund the trip goes directly to the participant’s trip costs and medical supplies and medications needed for the clinic. Each trip, depending on the distance, length and medical needs of the community served, has a cost associated with it, posted on the website. For instance, the clinic trip to Panama scheduled for October 2020 is $2000. Costs on the website are for in-country costs meaning Project C.U.R.E. basically covers
everything from the moment you land in-country to the moment you take off. Airfare to and from the country is additional. Trips last usually eight to ten days each with four full days of clinics and one day of a cultural excursion for the participants. Patti pays for her trips out of her own pocket but says they are comparable to what she would pay to go on an international vacation, except that she is really helping people in the process.
The exception is for trip leaders. Because of the added responsibility trip leaders take on, their expenses are covered. Trip leaders get to know the other medical personnel going on the trip beforehand to help them with packing and preparation questions, and then, once on the ground, coordinating all the logistics for the trip.
She explains that everyone who goes on a clinic trip takes supplies or C.U.R.E. Kits as their checked luggage. Personal luggage is generally carry-ons, like a roller bag and backpack. Patti says that part of the fun of going on the trip is getting together to pack the supplies that will be used during the clinics or to leave behind. Packing is one of her favorite jobs; and having been on so many clinic trips, she can look at a list and say, “This clinic won’t need 50 of those, but we might need more of these.” Volunteers can pack for trips without going on them, but travel experience from previous C.U.R.E. Clinics helps to better inform volunteers on how and what to pack.
Patti Oakley is an inspiration to all who know her. Could she be an inspiration to you? Project C.U.R.E. always needs volunteers to bring clinical care to remote locations around the world and raise the bar for sustainable healthcare infrastructure. If you think you would like to do a clinic trip with Project C.U.R.E. check us out.