When a Trip Changes

If you’ve ever gone on a medical mission trip, you know they take a lot of planning. There are so many moving parts from healthcare volunteers, to the nonprofit organization, to travel coordination, and on the ground operations.

And when you plan multiple trips in a year, the puzzle of scheduling medical missions becomes that much more complicated. And sometimes, even after the most well thought out calendar of trips; things can change.

The Making a Difference Foundation experienced this firsthand earlier this year.

We were originally scheduled to travel to Haiti in March of 2020, but due to severe political unrest, we didn’t feel comfortable sending our volunteer healthcare providers there. So what could we do? Canceling trips are always an option, but something that the Making a Difference Foundation tries to use as a last resort.

So, we put on our thinking caps. Was there a place that had a similar need? A similar population? A similar experience for our volunteers? We talked through these questions with our amazing nonprofit partner, who helped walk us through several other options that would match what we were trying to accomplish.

In addition, we also had to make sure that those healthcare volunteers who expressed specific interest in Haiti, would be interested and willing to volunteer somewhere else. Luckily, we work with the most incredible providers, who were simply focused on the help they would be giving. Plus, many of the providers we work with do locum tenens and therefore are used switching gears quickly.

After talking through different ideas, we were so thrilled to find a similar mission to Costa Rica! Everyone was excited for this new opportunity and we were grateful for everyone’s ability to pivot.

However, we were thrown yet another curve ball. While our volunteers were in country the serious ramifications of COVID-19 were finally coming to light and restrictions on international travel were about to go into effect. In less than a day, we had to get everyone out of Costa Rica and home quickly and safely.

You never know exactly how things are going to play out when planning a medical mission trip, and despite how things changed and shifted, everyone involved still commented on what a worthwhile experience it was. There always seems to be unexpected variables or obstacles, but at the end of the day, providing healthcare is the most important factor. And we’re grateful to work with such amazing individuals and organizations who believe the same thing.

About the author

Margaret Vallejo

I am passionate about helping others make a difference - in their backyards or around the world. When not working for others you can find me spending time in the mountains, with friends, and family.

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