Welcomed With Open Arms in Guatemala

Valerie Desio

Critical care paramedic Valerie Desio describes why volunteering with Team Rubicon in Guatemala was one of the best decisions she has ever made.

I joined Team Rubicon (TR) at a time in my life when I had the ability to give back to my community. I never dreamed of being able to do it on an international scale. Operation Continuing Promise was my first experience with TR and my first deployment. While I was thrilled to have been chosen to go to Guatemala, I was also scared about going into a foreign country with a group of strangers.



From day one, I was welcomed with open arms and never once felt like an outsider. Even though our team was made up of folks from different areas and different walks of life, we all came together to help the people of Guatemala. I had no idea when I got to Guatemala how much of an impact we would have on people. One Guatemalan family sticks out in my mind.

The mother carried her disabled daughter into the clinic. While triaging them, I found out that the mother only wanted to have her daughter see the eye doctor but it was after lunch, and optometry had already filled up for the day. After getting a small amount of history and observing this girl, I understood that seeing the eye doctor would greatly benefit this family.



Working with the Navy, we were able to get this family into both the eye doctor and a pediatrician. I did not see the family leave the clinic that day, but later I saw a picture of them with the pediatrician and the Ministry of Health. It was then I realized just how much of an impact this operation had on not just this family, but also every family that came into the clinic. I am honored to have had the opportunity to be apart of this operation and represent Team Rubicon.

Joining this operation was one of the best decisions that I’ve made and this experience has motivated me to do more to help others in the future. The one thing I was not prepared for was making so many new friends and a second family with Team Rubicon. I can’t wait to see what this organization does in the future and feel privileged to be apart of it.


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