Emma Oostenbroek

February 2017 I have spent two and a half weeks at the SACH Children’s Home and as well at the Wolfson Medical Center as a Medical Intern. Being a member of SACH Young Leadership in The Netherlands I was very excited to meet the people behind the scene, such as the nurses and the other volunteers at the Children’s Home. And the opportunity to see so many cardiac patients, some of them with very rare heart defects, from all over the world was very special to me as a medical student. So I packed my stethoscope and started my very interesting internship.

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At the Children’s Home I also met the doctors who were getting trained by SACH at the Wolfson Medical Center. These trainees took really good care of me, showing me which bus to take to the hospital and taking me to their morning meetings, lectures in the afternoon and showing me how their daily routine looked like at their department. For me as a third year medical student it resulted in two very interesting weeks. But honestly, what amazed me most were the children!

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Because I slept at the Children’s Home and I was working in the hospital during the day I had the chance to really follow the children during their time with SACH. A new group of children and their mothers arrived from Kenya just a few days after I did. I could assist with the admission at the children’s ward where the children with their mothers and I had a very nice start of getting to know each other. Understandably these mothers also needed someone to talk to. Later that week the first child of that group went in for surgery, which I was honoured enough to attend. And only a few days later a second child went in for a heart catheterization. I noticed it was very soothing for them to see a familiar face, so in the morning during rounds I would always walk into their rooms to say good morning and said good night when I left in the afternoon again.

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In the weekends I had time to take the older children to a park nearby or watch one of their favourite Disney movies with the younger one’s. They opened up really easily, which was very special to me, even if they just saw me during the afternoon or at weekends. I would have understood that the new surroundings and all the new faces would have shut them down. Then Sunday morning I took the bus to the hospital again. I was so surprised to see that the first little boy who had the open heart surgery walked up to me smiling to tell me that he was feeling good enough to go back to the Children’s Home again! Just days before I sat with him because he was in such pain after of the surgery. The great amount of flexibility and positivity these children expose is amazing! I deeply respect the doctors for the exceptional work they do for SACH, not looking at the background, religion or financial state of these children, sometimes with just a minor surgery or catheterization, other times with open heart surgery, but always giving them a new chance in life. Nevertheless, I really feel these children have super powers as well!

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