Fastlane

March 18, 2011

Traveling far to keep herself rooted

Lisa Gilpin is a very modern woman. She works on the GM Social Media team. She wears stylish shoes. She loves to travel all over the globe. Five years ago, she opened a new chapter in her life when she was presented with an opportunity to take her vacation time and go to a less-developed part of the world to help make life a little better for residents there.

Lisa says, “A few years ago a friend of mine who’s a doctor asked if I’d like to join her in Guatemala to help a group of medical personnel from Michigan hospitals provide services to villages in the highlands. I jumped at the chance.” That was five years ago and she’s been going back every year since.

She finds the work rewarding, but you shouldn’t think it’s a vacation for her. She has even gone to “Spanish school” while in Guatemala so that she could communicate better with the people while there.

The work in Guatemala brings a sense of renewed hope in clearing the new hurdles that appear each year. Lisa and each of the people on the mission bring in a 50 pound bag containing pharmaceuticals for the patients they’re going to see.  When the medical team members pull into town in their “chicken bus” they attract a lot of attention.  Many of the people are in need of medical help to fix problems with parasites or intestinal issues or muscle pain.  They try to provide medical treatment to as many people as they can.  This year Lisa was with the medical team for just four days, and in that time they saw nearly 1,300 patients.

The assistance Lisa provides in Guatemala helps her to deal with her 21st century life back in metro Detroit. “It’s a good reminder of what’s important and I always come back really refreshed and energized,” Lisa says.

Lisa is now trying to use the skills she’s developed at GM to help keep the medical project running. The doctors, interns and nurses who participate in the program spend all year raising money to help pay for the drugs and travel costs of the medical team. Lisa says, “I’m trying to provide them with photos and with ideas for, say, a Facebook page to get funds. They need their hospital administrations to support it. I hope to give them some marketing ideas, business expertise that they can use to get even more money than they have before.”Lisa w medical team

She pays her own way to work in Guatemala for a week or two, and then spends even more time helping to promote the effort. Might Lisa be getting tired of using her vacation time to help others? She says no. “I get so much more out of it than I give. There’s no question I’ll always do this at least once a year for the rest of my life.”

If you’d like to find out more about the medical mission to Guatemala, go to: http://www.docareintl.org.  You might be opening a new chapter in your own life.

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