This blog post is written by Pallavi Tatapudy, MS4 at Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University who served as co-leader of the 2017 medical and surgical mission to Sacred Valley, Perú organized by A Promise to Peru.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” - Mahatma Gandhi

The day is here! Our team is ready to embark on our cataract surgical mission to Riobamba, Ecuador after months of intense preparation. Our group of enthusiastic volunteers travelled via Jet Blue from JFK International Airport, eager to step foot in the Andean highlands. We met a few more volunteers at the stopover at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and had an informative introductory meeting to orient everyone. Dr. Debra Messina, Cathy Roberts, Dr. Christina Rager, and Sarah Marjane from Partners for Andean Community Health shared a few thoughts about our mission, goals, the importance of professionalism, and safety precautions. We then journeyed together on our second flight of the day to Quito, Ecuador, where we were joyfully greeted by Señor Wilson from FIBUSPAM. The team quickly loaded the 20+ suitcases and 4+ carry-on bags full of mission equipment, as well as personal luggage, into a large bus that would be driven by Señor Jorge. We ate sandwiches, chips, and juice on the bus while Wilson and Sarah welcomed our team once again to Ecuador. We weaved between the mountains of Ecuador for about four hours till we arrived in Riobamba around 3:30 am. The luggage was quickly unloaded from the bus and the mission equipment that required refrigeration was promptly placed in refrigerators in the hotel by Wilson and the staff. Our team then rushed up to their rooms to sleep in preparation for an early start tomorrow. The adventure is just beginning, folks! Buckle up!