One of life’s most important questions is What are we doing for others? I try to answer that question when each year, for the past 20 years, I have gone on a medical trip to volunteer. I greatly enjoy doing hands on nursing care and have been able to give back to patients in the Philippines, South America, and South Africa. In my most recent trip to South Africa, I learned the term #LeaveOfPurpose from the #TshembaFoundation for which I was volunteering.
I have decided to use the term #LeaveOfPurpose while describing my experience. At the heart of my trips are the friends and family that I travel with to these places of need. While there are nurses and doctors, there are also lay volunteers that provide services to the communities we serve. Our lay volunteers give so much, and they are a testament that one does not need a medical or nursing degree to do good deeds.
This year, during my #LeaveofPurpose, I worked at Tintswalo Hospital, a public facility in rural South Africa, in the province of Mpunalanga. The hospital serves an area of 1.5 million patients. The work was hard as the patients are plentiful, however, the patients are also kind and ever so grateful to receive care. The nurses are caring and considerate of their patients and extremely hard working. One of the nurses told me Tintswalo means Grace and that the nurses work to serve their patients with as much grace and mercy as possible. I witnessed their acts of caring and kindness every day that I worked with them.
My volunteer family included friends that I have volunteered with many times before. Dr. Craig Matthews, Larry Nicklas, Bhaskar Mitra, Erica Stowell, and all were remarkably busy! Our shared experiences build our friendships stronger as we learn to rely on one another and work together. I am lucky to have found others that value these experiences as much as I do. Each one of us takes away a unique perspective. I am thankful for each of them and my experience.
My #LeaveOfPurpose allows me the opportunity to help others #DoingForOthers, but they are doing so much for me, as I receive so much more then I give. I challenge others to take a #LeaveOfPurpose.