Have A Heart!

Located in the lower level of Brinkley Plaza, you’ll find an organization that provides hope and opportunity for children in developing nations. At International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF), staff members plan and organize medical mission trips to cure and care for children with congenital heart disease. Before last week, I had never heard of ICHF. Through Volunteer Odyssey Founder Sarah, who continues to be a wonderful resource, I met Randa Blenden and learned more about the organization and its mission. Randa, the ICHF Volunteer Medical Trip Coordinator, was actually getting ready to leave for a medical mission trip in the Dominican Republic. To be able to meet with her and discuss the possibility of volunteering at the ICHF office was such a treat! Also, I underestimated just how many people are affected by heart disease. Approximately 1% of the world’s population is born with heart disease, making it the most common birth defect worldwide. While the United States and other developed countries can properly care for children with heart disease and repair congenital heart defects, developing nations do not have the medical centers with trained specialists to better care for these children. Randa, who is also a registered nurse, accompanies the ICHF team to provide direct care, medical supplies and equipment, and training for the surgeons and medical staff in these countries. These surgical interventions are structured to correct congenital heart defects, whether simple or complex. At ICHF, they offer hope and support for the patients’ families and help children with congenital heart disease lead longer and healthier lives.

At the meeting, Randa asked if I’d be interested in working on the layout and design of an ICHF trip report. I’m always eager to take on a new challenge, so I was excited to put my skills and knowledge to the test with this assignment. For the fifth day of my Odyssey Week, I enjoyed learning even more about the ICHF mission through this creative, hands-on project. Terry Carter, the ICHF Executive Director, provided me with a wonderful workspace at the office. Before she left for her trip, Randa sent me images and documents that would help in the development of the trip report. Through the stories and pictures of families who were helped, I gained valuable insight into the how the ICHF program has given each patient a second chance at life. With the proper treatment, each patient has the chance to live a life with possibilities never imagined – a life that wouldn’t be possible without the medical care provided by ICHF. Their commitment to providing support to the children and families in developing nations reminds me that anything is possible through hard work and dedication.

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