Written by: Ann Rhomberg

"Hard Times Call for a Soft Touch."

Little did I know when I awoke this morning that this short phrase on my Kleenex package would characterize my day with our General Surgery team. I have been honored to share the chaplain role this week with Marcela Canedo, one of the many dedicated staff members comprising our partner organization, Puente de Solidaridad. Accompanying Marcela as she visited patients in pre-op and post-op beds at the Viedma Hospital deepened my appreciation for the power of kindness and compassion in the lives our patients, who too often seem to shoulder hard times in their daily lives which are exacerbated when needed surgeries aren’t accessible.

Marcela’s warm eyes and gentle words brought about instant smiles to those who lie in worry,  with various combinations of anxiety, isolation and/or pain.  Although Marcela set out to visit our specified list of mission patients, those pre-screened by our social workers weeks ago, she also expanded her reach to include non-mission patients in the hospital, too. This took time she had not planned for,  but Marcela patiently offered each person her whole heart.

One such patient, Manuel, was found gazing out of his small window… alone.  He looked frightened, sad, and forgotten such that Marcela was drawn to comfort him. Speaking only Quechua, a common indigenous language here, Marcela had limitations to her conversation but her smile and concern for him melted away all barriers. As we were leaving his room, Manuel uttered, Orenme, pray for me.

The soft touch that Marcela brings to her work is a vital element of our mission overall.  In addition to our activities that support high-complexity surgeries we fervently strive to bring about inner healing and transformation to all who participate.

I am both grateful and proud to be part of this vibrant mission!


Ann Rhomberg is the Executive Director of Solidarity Bridge. She joins our General Surgery Mission Trip in the role of Chaplain. The 2017 General Surgery Mission Trip is taking place from March 10 to 19. 

Throughout the year, our Bolivian partner surgeons perform gall bladder and hernia surgeries for impoverished patients identified through our Bolivian office in Cochabamba. Our mission teams deliver vital equipment and supplies and provide ongoing training to continue to advance skills in these procedures and expand competencies in these and other high-complexity surgeries such as megacolon and various oncological surgeries. Learn more about our General Surgery Program.

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