After a long, first day at the clinic, we loaded the rundown buses back up with large, plastic containers filled with antibiotics, parasite medication, multivitamins, and all the medical equipment that we could bring from miles away. I could hear the metal trunk doors slam shut as I trudged up those few steps onto the bus and plopped down into my seat. The engine sputtered alive and I imagined the cold shower that awaited me nearly three hours away. I could feel sweat was sticking to my scrubs and the jetlag quickly setting in. My temple began to press against the window as my eyelids became heavier.
Just as the bus began to rumble away from the village, a small figure next to my window appeared between my heavy blinks. I jolted awake and saw a small boy, lightly jogging along the bus. He had the brightest smile on his face, waving good-bye enthusiastically. As the bus picked up speed, he continued at its pace keeping up with us easily, all while throwing up peace signs and waving. Soon our whole bus was out of their seats, cheering the boy on to continue along side our bus. Just as it seemed like he was losing steam and our bus was speeding out of reach, he sprinted, barefoot, making a gain on our bus for one last goodbye wave.
It was in that moment I realized the incredible circumstances that a person could be born into. The sheer chance of having a life without standard medicine at your disposal or a doctor just a phone call away was in reality a very high possibility. The jetlag was long gone and my mind wandered to more philosophical places: Why did I beat those odds? Why was I so lucky to be born into a more-than fortunate life? Why couldn’t that boy have the same access to medical attention that I did when I was his age? Why was he the one that needed to worry about surviving a common cold? I mulled over all the possibilities before settling on the extremely unsatisfying conclusion that a concrete answer was unanswerable; however, my conscience fell more at ease when it dawned on me that medical mission trips like the one I was on could hopefully help balance those unfair odds.
I looked around at the bus full of pre-medical students, all on the same journey as myself. All with more or less the same opportunities and all of which chose the same path as myself. We weren’t doctors or nurses or even out of college for that matter, but we all had a common passion to give the basic foundation of a healthy life to those who were born into a life they may have not chosen for themselves. I gazed at my fellow trippers for a few moments longer, turned back around in my seat and smiled to myself as the bus drove on.