But sadness and frustration come with the experience as well.
For me, having just returned from my third trip, two things have affected me profoundly.
The first is the realization that I get to drive away from Jalapa, Nicaragua -- a profoundly poor place -- and escape the misery I see around me. Not an option for the people we serve there.
The second is the unexpected and completely shocking experience we just had in Leon: while her mother was being examined, we played with a little girl of about 7 years old, who seemed entirely happy and normal. But I'll always feel helpless when I think of her. We learned that she has been treated repeatedly for a common sexually transmitted disease, apparently from abuse by her mother's husband or boyfriend.
In the United States, we would have called the authorities. She would have been protected somehow.
No such thing in Leon. We had to watch her leave with the adults in her life, and there was nothing we could do to intervene.
-- Larry Shushan, PINCC volunteer in Central America