Building Friendships Across Barriers

Building Friendships Across Barriers
Marli Page
Jan 19, 2022

People of the Galapagos value the older generation.

I came to this realization early in our week of clinics this past summer in the Galapagos. Our first meeting with the city officials organizing the venue, made clear that prioritization would be given to the older adults.

This is how I first met Manuel.

In his late 90s, he was one of the oldest people I have met in a developing nation. My assignment for the first part of clinic was screening with our COVID questionnaire. Through the interpreter, Manuel assured us he was vaccinated and was so excited to see a doctor from the USA. He saw a provider that day , and was given his vitamins. He proceeded to come back the next day to our optical clinic, and the day after that to visit our dental area. He quickly became well-known throughout our clinic!

On the last day, he came back in the afternoon. At this point, I had switched to a provider role and was seeing patients. I was blessed to have him as my patient. My interpreter, Julien, had become familiar with him at this point and was as happy to talk with him as I was. Manuel told me that there was a wound behind his ear that he had failed to mention in earlier clinics. I noticed an area behind his right ear where the old mask he was wearing had caused skin breakdown, which was now infected and had caused inflammation and drainage. My teammates in the lab fixed him up with wound care and we found him a new mask.

He was so grateful, hugging and thanking all the staff around. I asked whether I could I get a picture with him and he gladly complied, with the deal I would share it with him on WhatsApp. Since then, we have texted through the app regularly and the Lord has blessed our friendship. It has been an honor to stay connected with him, and to see a perspective from a different culture and generation. He speaks several languages–unfortunately English is not one of them, so our google-translated language barrier makes for some fun conversations!

I am not sure I will ever be able to hug or see him in person again on this side of heaven, but I love staying connected virtually!

Being a part of MMO has made me so grateful for moments like these. Encounters I would’ve never dreamed of having, people I would’ve never met and connections I would’ve never made.