by Megan Jones, Editor-in-Chief
“Throughout the course of the week, I gave shots, put in catheters, removed I.V’s and stapled a patient’s abdomen,” Joanna Stankowicz, senior, said. “It was an incredible experience to be able to hold a melon-sized tumor while it was still in someone or to be able to be a part of a laparoscopic operation.”
Stankowicz received the opportunity to travel to Honduras with Peggy Ochoa, close family friend and nurse at Evanston Hospital.
While there, Stankowicz performed gynecological surgeries, such as the removal of tumors and uteruses. Some days, Stankoicz helped directly in the operating room, while other days she checked vitals and observed patients in recovery rooms.
The trip has confirmed Stankowicz’s desire to go into a medical career; however, she now hopes to look into helping third world countries more.
“Everything I learned about medications, nursing and operating will help me a lot in the future. I got an amazing experience that I could not have gotten elsewhere,” Stankowicz said.
During the second half of her day, she spent time helping translate and control the crowd for youth Bible camps.
“I realized how important it is to be able to speak Spanish,” Stankowicz said. “I also received a culture shock to appreciate everything. No one compained, and they (Hondurans) have so much to complain about.”
Ochoa felt glad to see Stankowicz receive a different cultural experience. Ochoa began helping in Honduras 12 years ago. Ever since Stankowicz was in third grade, she would ask if Ochoa would take her with to Honduras.
“Someone told me that for some people, this is something they would do to cross off their bucket list, but for others, you get hit by this bug to go help out. I have definitley hit that bug.“
— Joanna Stankowicz, senior
“Joanna was spectacular on the trip with me,” Ochoa said. “No one understands poverty until they see it, so she learned compassion, which is great for a nurse. Working with a team while having limited resources will help her nursing career greatly because you can’t really be taught that.”
According to Stankowicz, she spent the whole day working and had little free time.
Despite the work load, Stankowicz said she would have stayed even longer given the opportunity.
People in Honduras do not have access to clean water, and the hospital Stankowicz worked at gives water to people in the town. According to Ochoa, she thinks it was a high point for Stankowicz to be able to appreciate things like water, which Americans take for granted.
Dr. Rick Watson, counselor, read Stankowicz’s diary entries she kept during the trip.
“It (the diary) was quite extensive in detail,” Dr. Watson said. “I was amazed at how much license they gave her to do the procedure but they evidently need the help.”
According to Stankowicz, after exams, women would cry graciusly that the volunteers offered to get rid of their problems.
“Every woman that we operated on was incredibly strong and more grateful that I could have imagined,” Stankowicz said. “It warmed my heart to feel the woman’s graciousness through her hugs and smiles.”