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Eagle Voice: Healing Halfway Around the World

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UWL Junior Margaret Finco with children in Cambodia

UWL Junior Margaret Finco with children in Cambodia

UWL Junior Margaret Finco with children in Cambodia

Gretchen Kent, Viewpoint Editor

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While the rest of us were in classes and working last month, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Junior Margaret Finco was having the volunteer experience of her life in Cambodia.

Finco’s volunteer opportunity came through the nonprofit Love Without Boundaries (LWB). LWB operates ongoing education, nutrition, medical, foster-care, and child trafficking aid programs to benefit orphaned children in China, India, Uganda, and Cambodia. Accompanied by her mother and LWB Managing Director of Medical Services Kate Finco, and other volunteers from across the nation was able to help their two-week cleft lip and palates medical exchange project a success.

“The first week of the trip was in a very rural area of Cambodia, where we visited three schools LWB had help build and handed out toys, games, and textbooks,” Finco said. While she didn’t earn any credits from the experience, she put her Public Health and Community Health Education major to good use, distributing soap, personal care items, and hygienic information in the schools.

The second week the team was in the capital city, Phnom Penh where they performed 31 cleft lip and palate surgeries in four days. LWB also donated cleft bottles for the underweight infants not eligible for the procedure so they could drink easier.

As for Finco’s role “I got to watch the surgeries, help set up the OR and assisted nurses in the ward, and relaxed the patients with toys and games,” she said. “I also helped in the PACU [Post Anesthesia Care Unit], where the kids wake up after the procedure.” She described how amazing the surgeries were for the kids, and how happy they were after all was said and done.

Finco also assisted doctors and staff in unpacking the dozens of suitcases worth of medical supplies they had brought over from the United States. The medical team was comprised of American nurses and plastic surgeons.

“The best part is that they were doing this on a volunteer basis. Those doctors were taking time out of their careers and using up vacation days to make a difference halfway across the world,” expressed Finco.

Most of the medical equipment the team used was left behind for the Cambodian medical students and doctors (who also served as translators) to use in hopes that they continue their work.

The trip indubitably shaped Finco’s future plans as the experience may nudge her toward such service-based work after graduation, or even membership in LWB.

For more information on Love Without Boundaries, click here.

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Eagle Voice: Healing Halfway Around the World