Surgical tech Neomi Rosario has traveled with LEAP on 9 missions to Haiti, Belize, Zimbabwe, and India. She was part of our Haiti mission in April and will join us again in Belize in June for her 10th mission. We sat down with Neomi during the Haiti mission and discovered what inspires her to help others.
Why did you choose to volunteer with LEAP?
Working at Children’s Hospital in Dallas, I just kept hearing the stories from both the doctors and nurses about the incredible experiences on these trips with LEAP. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I’ve worked hard to attain the skills that that are needed, my kids are grown, and I am lucky enough to be able to take time off without pay or use vacation time to travel to areas to serve children without access to care. People think I’m crazy to go without pay or use my vacation time. They don’t understand the pay you receive back is so much greater than money. You get much more than you give.
How is this different from your everyday practice?
Where we live, people don’t appreciate what they have or receive. Not in Haiti. People there are thankful, appreciative, and there are often tears of joy. This is pride for me. I’m proud of my work there.
Was there a particular patient experience that especially moved you?
In Zimbabwe two years ago, there was a little boy named Carlos. He was injured while clearing out landmines for $20 a month. We did facial reconstruction surgery on both eyes and redid his hand. It was a powerful experience. I will never forget that boy for as long as I live.
What is it like working with the LEAP team?
It’s family! There are a lot of different personalities from a lot of places. People we know, people we meet. By the end of the trip, we are all close. We stay in touch after the trips. I have friends all over the world because of LEAP missions.
What parts of the experience sticks with you the most?
More than anything, it makes you appreciate what you have at home. You don’t take things for granted. It’s grounding and humbling. This is the greatest work I can imagine doing.
What drives you to share your gifts in this way?
I came from a poor family in a small town in the middle of Texas, from immigrant parents who came here without being able to speak English or read or write. I know what it means to go to bed hungry. I know what it means to work for what you have and never make ends meet. If I can make a living and at the same time help others who are no different from me, I have a responsibility to do so. All lives have equal value. I treat all my patients the same.