Written by Shuhan Wang, MS4 

This is a hard post to write because today is our last day at the clinic in Riobamba. Over the span of this week, our team completed over 600 appointments at the ophthalmologic office, performed cataract removals and other sight restoring surgeries for approximately 85 patients (ranging from 3 years old to 90 years old), initiated regular post-operative follow-ups, distributed hundreds of glasses in the nearby communities, and shared many beautiful moments. Tonight the staff at Fibuspam organized a surprise goodbye dinner for us at an enchanting 300-year-old hacienda where El Libertador, Simon Bolivar once stayed! David, the director of Fibuspam Riobamba, gave us his most heartfelt thank you on behalf of his people. The organization presented each one of us with a handmade Fibuspam poncho in pure white, symbolizing the virtuous morals and the luminosity of medicine. “With this poncho, I salute you as a member of this community.” David proclaimed as he donned us with this precious gift of bond.

As David correctly pointed out, this mission on many levels signifies the unity of two countries, where total strangers from two different worlds come together to work towards a common goal to improve the lives of other people. Within hours of meeting, we were able to be of service to one another and now just look at what we have been able to accomplish this week! Our mission has touched lives in more ways than we could have imagined!

Dr. Sable, an ingenious surgeon, who has been dubbed “el artista” (the Artist) by everyone in town also expressed his gratitude towards this community who had welcomed us as their own. Dr. Sable believes that as a result of this mission, he is able to become a much better doctor, teacher, and friend. Dr. Messina, the mastermind behind A Promise to Peru, an altruistic leader and physician who envisioned many missions like this, said she was swept away by the needs present in this region and the hospitality we had received here. She is wholeheartedly committed to continuing her vision on health to come back in the future. Our amazing tour guide Wilson and wonderful host coordinator Sarah also shared their thoughts. “The mountains are our passions.”, they said with deep conviction. And the light in their eyes that flickered as they talked about the poverty that still exists and what remains to be done in these mountain towns convey their first-hand understanding and determination for what they will always aim to accomplish here. Dr. Gonzales, the kind-hearted, high-spirited ophthalmologist from Nicaragua who has been dedicating his service to this community also added that although he was not from this region, this is now his home, his heart. Drs. Appel, Krebs, Ng, Gang, Cathy, Ken, Ana, Frank, Sandra, Shashi, Pat, and Robin were all valued and recognized for their individual service and contribution to this community. Personally, I was deeply touched to hear that everyone appreciated the way I was treating and caring for our patients and their families and cannot wait for the day when I officially become a doctor! “We are coming to your graduation!”, they shouted. I could not have felt more love from this amazing family that we have come to build over this trip. ”Thank you from my heart to you”, we all bowed and said to each other in unison.

It is with a heavy heart we bid goodbye to these mountains and the perseverant indigenous people. By the time our bus departed, the valley was quiet asleep with resonant murmurs of our hearts. Until we meet again, Riobamba!

Until we can all see clearly the sun shine its radiant rays through the clouds covering your beautiful great plain. With our eyes, and with your very own.