“Kind of feel sad, man. I leave today.”
“I, too, feel sad you’re leaving, Rilesh.“
“What you said the other day is so true, man; within one week the bonds that we formed will last for years. It’s become like a family. Like Karla(our Costa Rican expat interpreter), for example, I have to call her and see her, I need to say goodbye. She opened up her house and her heart to all of us.”
“She’s coming to the hospital for lunch this afternoon.”
“Oh, good, good. Then I’ll see her before I go. I hope she’ll bring Vulcanos. Amazing, amazing dog, man.
So, I’m thinking what’s going to happen next, once I go back… I want to get involved locally in Vancouver. I mean, one thing is that you want to be in touch with everybody, right?”
“I wouldn’t worry about that. I never fell out of touch with anybody. I see these guys several times a year.”
“And with me, I’ll be going to different hospitals all the time, you know? So, when I’m at St. Paul’s I’m going to go see Gloria and others at St. Paul’s. Royal Columbian Hospital, same thing; I’ll go see Cheryl.”
“I’m not even in the medical field, yet I see a lot of H4H friends throughout the year. I see Monica, Carmen, Joe, and others. For example, we went out this past summer to celebrate the completion of my Triage doc project. Then there’s the Fiesta on the Hill as the main fundraiser. And Guatemala Getdown party Janet and I put on. There are other fundraisers and things happening on top of all that.”
“You know, for me, everything started this past summer. I had a ruptured appendix. I was in the hospital for fourteen days.
So, those fourteen days got me thinking a lot. I mean, there’s only so much time you can be on Youtube while in a hospital bed. I thought a lot about what I’m doing in my life.
Joe was a very big motivator to join, but I was also reaching out at that point. Like, let’s do something, let’s change something. You know? Let’s give back. I mean, everybody gives on the personal level, we contribute to charities and stuff like that. But this is what I call an international level. It’s out of the country. And that was my whole thing, to come and see how people live here. And it’s amazing. Not that I only got that, but I got so much friendship out of that… I’m humbled by the recognition I received. Amazing.
“Joe pulled me out during the Fiesta and introduced me to everybody, and these are big-time clinicians. From VGH, from everywhere. I go to all these ORs and before this I was unknown, ‘Raj is here from GE, he’s going to fix some machines.’… And now, let’s suppose Dr. Maged sees me now. He will be like, ‘Hey Raj!’
It’s a very humbling experience.”
“It kind of happened to me last year. That’s why I know how it feels.”
“It feels overwhelming sometimes. I nearly cried.
I mean, working for a big organization, I’m XYZZYXX… I’m a number. Right? That’s my identity. But H4H is smaller, I got recognition and it’s amazing.
“That said, we’ve done some amazing things for healthcare, at GE. It’s a pioneering company, they do give back. If I could get something next year for Health for Humanity that would be amazing. I’m really going to fight to get ultrasound here.”
“Damn, I don’t really want to leave today. I think ninety percent of people here are people’s persons. Like, for you, or me, it doesn’t take us much to… you know? Start something. We’re like ‘Hey, how you doin’? Let’s go for coffee. Or rum and coke.’
“I’ve heard a lot of people say ‘Raj fits in so well.’
But I just love people. That’s all.”
Rilesh Raj is a stellar Field Service Engineer with General Electric. He came with us to Antigua and put seven of our donated anesthesia machines back into service. We doubt they would have seen any use without him.
Rilesh immigrated to Surrey from Fiji in 1993. Here in Antigua, he was my roommate for less than a week after which he flew home. We bonded instantly. He left me with the muscles on the back of my head hurting from our fits of hysterical laughter.
I’ll be seeing him…
Photo by Badzak Creative
Photo by Badzak Creative