Why am I here?

I departed Panama 9 days ago after a week filled with unexpected goodbye moments. It was charged with support and respect from peers, friends and family regarding my upcoming volunteering assignment. As an immigrant, saying goodbye to loved ones is always a challenge I normally turn away from, this time it was no different, nonetheless, it was my choice.

So why volunteering? In my heart, as a medical doctor, there is a volunteer. I am driven by service, courage and solidarity for people. At times, everyday life engulfs me. Caught up by habits and the whirlpool of a big city life with far too many errands and responsibilities makes it easy to forget my purpose. I had been looking into GSK’s Pulse volunteer program for over 5 years now and finally decided it was time to understand why it was calling me so deeply. I needed to get away for a while to connect to people´s stories in a different environment and touch back on that innate and intuitive Ingrid, even if this meant facing good byes.

Why am I in Manila? I was matched to volunteer for Smile Train Philippines, a non-profit organization which delivers programs that allow children and adolescents born with cleft lip and palate to SMILE again. I aim to pass my skills and knowledge to support the delivery of programs that will have long-lasting effects for the affected families of the Philippines. I believe giving people what they want is not nearly as powerful as teaching people what they need to go through challenging moments. I am in Manila today, 100% engaged, 100% excited and ready to start my journey tomorrow.

There is goodness in the world and I have shown up for it, even if it entailed the affliction of saying goodbyes.

Grateful for the opportunity!


  1. Ingrid, I am so happy for you! I believe this experience will be as enriching for you as it will be for those receiving the services and those working with you. You have all my support and respect. Norah

  2. Great endeavor and opportunity for personal growth. Givibg back is one of the most fulfilling experiences one can have. Godspeed.

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