Clinic Blog: 2011 South Africa 2 Clinic Blog
October 14, 2011
Packing …. A Woman’s Perspective
We are all very excited about this opportunity to show our passion and give the gift of sight to the people of Mtubatuba. As we finish up our packing and try and stuff that one last item that we can’t possibly live without for two weeks into our suitcases I thought I would provide you with some insight.
At some time or another we have all packed to jet off to a meeting, family visit, or vacation. Packing always leads to anxieties and oftentimes the fear that if you forget something you don’t know if you will be able to live without it or find an adequate substitute at your final destination. Packing for a OneSight clinic is much the same except you need to focus and “skinny down” your essentials.
When you are notified you’ve been selected you immediately drag your biggest suitcases out of storage and set them up (open of course) in your spare room so you can pack as you pull together your necessities. After all, you definitely do not want to stress out about packing the day before you leave. You then start to plan out when to get your hair done, get a manicure and pedicure, and shop for more clothes. After all a gal has to look good!
As the weeks go by you continue to add to the ever growing pile of stuff you think you will be taking with you for those two weeks. There are clothes for every day, shoes to match every outfit (wedge heels, comfy shoes, dress shoes, sandals, crocs, tennis shoes, and flip flops), all the assorted accessories that go with each outfit that you plan on wearing…necklaces, earrings, bracelets, watches, scarves, shawls, sweaters (of various weights and colors), jackets (in case it’s cold), raingear, umbrella, gloves, and hats.
Meanwhile, as you are gathering all your stuff you are receiving communications from the clinic leaders advising you to pack light, don’t bring anything you don’t want to lose, and limit your luggage to one checked bag and a carry-on. Of course all of these warnings fall on deaf ears as you are still thinking about what you will “need” when you go. Of course the word “need” is relative as you will soon understand. In addition you are advised to think about bringing some snacks along in case you don’t care for the food or need a quick pick me up during the day. Ok, back to the store to stock up on food essentials….a big jar of peanut butter, crackers, cookies, M&M’s (peanut of course), beef jerky, powdered drink mixes to give water that extra flavor, granola bars, fruit snacks, gum, and anything else that happens to catch your eye. After all, you will be gone for two weeks! All of this also goes in your spare room to be packed into your suitcases.
A few more weeks go by and the conference calls start and you are advised to bring things for the kids, volunteer gifts, and a silent auction item. You are also told that you will be given three clinic t-shirts which you will wear every day. Ok, back to the store again where you load up your cart with stickers, small toys, pens, pencils, coloring books, crayons, pins, makeup samples, Frisbees, playing cards, games, and anything else you think will be appropriate. Then it’s the search for the ultimate silent auction item that you hope will be the big hit. You go through the checkout line and again all of this gets placed in your room for packing. Of course, as you start e-mailing back and forth with the other team members everyone is talking about what they plan to pack and you make your mental note to dash to the store to pick up a couple more things that you hadn’t even considered before.
As time gets close you walk into your spare room and are stunned by all you see. Where did all this stuff come from? Surely you didn’t put all of it in this room. You look at the suitcases and then back at the piles and realize you may be packing a steamer trunk instead of a suitcase. Here’s where reality sets in. You have a stern talk with yourself about the fact that you are only leaving for two weeks and not two years as your pile of stuff seems to indicate and you start to weed out all non-essentials. Eventually you think you have the pile down to a reasonable amount and you start to pack only to realize you still need to leave more stuff at home.
Finally the night before you are ready to fly out you once again re-pack your suitcases. There is no need for 14 different outfits; you will be wearing your clinic shirts every day. You realize 2-3 pair of jeans/shorts are plenty, you can wash your unmentionables out in the sink and let them air dry, you only need one nice outfit for that outing with the clinic hosts, only a couple pair of shoes, minimal jewelry, a sweater or jacket, a rain poncho, some snacks, a few gifts for volunteers and kids, your silent auction item, a book and some magazines for the long plane ride, your iPod, and a travel pillow. All the rest of the stuff that you thought you needed you now realize is unnecessary. You have now managed to get all of your items into a suitcase and carry-on.
CONGRATULATIONS you are ready to leave on the adventure of a lifetime and meet your fellow team members. With passport in hand, money exchanged, and bags in the car you leave for the airport. WHEW………….