Mission to Mongolia: Reflections from team member Ivy Verriet

Thoughts on the recent service in Mongolia with Mission to Heal from Ivy Verriet, a fifteen-year-old highschool student, volunteer, and aspiring healthcare worker.

In her own, powerful words: 

m2h-ivyHi, my name is Ivy Verriet, I am a highschool student in Ontario, Canada and I am about to share with you my life-changing experience in Mongolia.

       First off, I would like to say a huge thank you to Dr. Geelhoed and everyone that makes these trips possible. These trips not only change the lives of so many people in need of medical attention, but also the lives of everyone who joins the team on these adventures, including mine.

      That said, as a fifteen-year-old girl hoping to go into the medical field, I still have a lot of things to learn. Coming into this trip, I was hoping to learn a lot about medicine, but what I got was so much more than that. Every day was a new lesson, whether it was learning how to say thank you in Mongolian, watching live surgeries, teaching Mongolian children English, discussing patients with the team or just taking in the culture and truly understanding how lucky we are at home. I found myself fully emerged in a country that I had little previous knowledge of, and I was blown away at the kind, humble people we met along the way.

       I obviously won’t be able to tell you everything about this trip, but perhaps I can give you a few snippets. Now on this particular trip, not everyone was a medical student, doctor or nurse; some of us were still in the process of getting there. But even if some of us didn’t have the same qualifications as others, we still all taught and learned from each other. We were given topics from Dr. Geelhoed and every night, we would get to share what we knew on our topics or a patient we had seen that day. This process was what Dr. G liked to refer to as a “tutorial.” During these sessions I learned a lot from my fellow peers, but I would like to say that I learned the most from teaching and discussing what I knew.

       Another opportunity I had on this trip was the chance to meet patients and actually do hands on work. Without trips like this, I wouldn’t get the chance to take blood pressures, do EKGs on real patients and listen to real heart murmurs. This hands on work that I was able to do really inspired me to follow the path of medicine and gave me a chance to feel what it is to help others. Being able to watch live surgical procedures was also an incredible experience. This first-person experience with real doctor-patient interactions (being one of the “doctors” that communicated with the patients) gave me a lot of insight about what patient interaction looks like back home. Where there are similarities, such as the questions we ask, there were also a lot of differences, such as the limit to our ability to help them (a result of the lack of resources). Overall, the opportunity to interact with patients excites me for the future, and the differences I will find depending on where I go.

       I have to say that if I had to talk about one thing I learned and experienced on this trip, it would be the qualities of a good doctor. Arriving at the airport the first day, meeting the crew and the people I would be spending the next couple of weeks with, I immediately felt the connection that we all shared; the desire to help others. Every single one of these people were here to help and do good for others. Now this trip wasn’t an easy journey, and through all the difficult travels or situations, the kindness and goal of helping people never faltered for even a second. I would have to say that, yes, I learned a lot of incredible medicine, but I also learned much from these amazing people that I can now call my friends and family.

       There are so many different aspects of this trip that I took away from, and I could continue for ages writing about my experience, but I would just like to conclude it with this: People all over the world are in need of serious medical attention, and to know that I and others were able to help, even a fraction of those in need, made this trip worth every second.

Overall, I could never have imagined that I could take so so much from one trip to the other side of the world, but once you breathe in culture and medicine unlike anything you have ever seen in North America, it’s pretty hard to forget. Thank you again to all of those who make these missions possible, I was absolutely honored to be part of such an amazing team.

 Click here for more info on how you can experience what Ivy did by participating in a future Mission to Heal mission, or get involved by donating or contacting us.  Be a part of helping to bring hope to the “bottom billion” of our brothers and sisters.