My Adventure with the Floating Doctors
The most amazing month in Panama
This is what Floating Doctors is all about. Our Goals Include:
- Providing free acute and preventative health care services and delivering donated medical supplies to isolated areas.
- Reducing child and maternal mortality through food safety/prenatal education, nutritional counseling and clean water solutions.
- Studying and documenting local systems of health care delivery and identifying what progress have been made, what challenges remain, and what solutions exist to improve health care delivery worldwide.
- Using the latest communications technologies to bring specialist medical knowledge to the developing world, and to share our experiences with the global community and promote cooperation in resolving world health care issues.
In order to provide care to our patients, our volunteers travel by plane, bus, and boat. They hike up mountains, wade through rivers, and sometimes they cross bridge paths leading into the jungle. Visit us at www.floatingdoctors.com
Days where long, hot and humid but the sense of achievement I felt a the end of each day was immeasurable and completely unforgettable.
It was an honor and a privilege to be welcomed into the community of the Ngäbe people and be able to help improve their general, oral health and relieve them of discomfort by providing dental care in a clean and comfortable environment.
I had the pleasure living and working with medical professionals from all over the world, learning all the time from each other and making new friends and fabulous memories.
We travelled everyday to different Ngäbe communities by cayuco sometimes for hours with our captain ‘Mancha’ taking everything we needed from soap to ultrasound. With the dental clinic fitted into a case and the chair on my back We journeyed via sea, river and jungle to reach our patients. Clinic was set up any where suitable to allow a little privacy, away from prying eyes and little fingers…not so easy at times.
My most important role was not only give toothbrush and toothpaste to everyone but to educate on diet. Refined sugar is abundant in Panama, ‘sugar-free’ does not exist. I found dental decay increased the younger the child. I suppose you could say dental decay marked wealth and progress? Once again proving refined sugar especially those in carbonated drinks are life changing – causing pain and discomfort alongside other diseases.
Communication was interesting, luckily I have a knowledge of Spanish but I had to drop the Castilian Spanish vocabulary and accent. The Ngäbe have their own language and often do not speak Spanish so the international language of signs and laughter was the only way.
Their smiles will stay with me forever.
Each week we visited Casa de Asilo (El Asilo de Ancianos) which is a state-run elderly home in Bocas Town (Isla Colón) to deliver health and dental care. I was hesitant on my first tip as I have never liked elderly residential care homes and my mind ran wild thinking what this would be like. It was wonderful. Residents where very well looked after by a handful of overworked underpaid caring staff. I looked forward to my time with the residents of Asilo. Instead of dental care we would take a morning stroll, chat (the best way possible), laugh and dance with the the odd manicure thrown in for good measure.
As they say in Bocas ‘Fair Winds’