Ning Ma, a 27-year-old doctor from Leicester, did a Stride placement at the Hospital Militar in Colombia, experiencing things she would never have done in her entire career in the UK:
‘This afternoon, a 23-year-old soldier came in with his extremities hanging off. I helped amputate his leg in the operating theatre.’ Ning’s latest experience during a one-month placement in the amputations and prosthesis department at the Hospital Militar in Bogotá, Colombia. ‘It’s very different from what I’m used to in England. The patients are almost all victims of land mines; I’ve seen some terrible things. But the service is excellent, and despite missing half a leg, patients can lead near-normal lives. Many go on to marry, have children and work.’
Ning, who was born in China but has lived most of her life in England, normally works as an oncology registrar (cancer specialist). But she’s ‘currently taking some time out to see a bit more of the world and explore God’s plan for my life.’ She continues: ‘I came across the Latin Link website and watched the video on the home page, which really touched me. From then on I was keen to pursue work with Latin Link.’
Medical placements can be difficult to find, ‘so when Abi Coles [Short Term Coordinator in Colombia] found this one, I was overjoyed. Hospital Militar is a prestigious hospital – Colombia’s best in prosthetics and amputations. Hence there was a lot of paperwork!
‘I’ve felt God’s guidance and protection since the day I arrived. I live with a wonderful Christian Colombian family and am within walking distance of the hospital. In the world of medicine it’s crazy for an oncologist to be in the operating theatre, so I truly believe that God has a reason for my being here. Even if it’s just to show the people that someone from another country and culture is able to understand some of this nation’s conflict and trauma.
‘Through this elective I’m learning patience, courage and dependence on God. It’s also teaching me about integrating into other cultures, and the hospitality of the Colombian people is humbling.’
Banner image: Jimmy Goméz N