The Road Less Traveled MAG

November 13, 2008
By Sanghee L., Fresno, CA, Fresno, CA

She quietly hobbled into the clinic when her number was called, clearly in excruciating pain. When asked what was troubling her, she lifted her left leg to reveal the sole of her foot. The entire medical team froze in shock. A cut on her left foot had become so infected that we could almost see the bones. It was incredible to think that anyone could stand, never mind walk, on such an injury.

We treated her foot, pouring ethyl alcohol on the wound, applying salves, and bandaging it to ensure that this basic, temporary treatment would provide a little comfort. The girl sat silently all the while, and despite her pain, smiled and thanked us when the last bandage was in place.

One of the nurses enquired what had caused such a terrible injury, and she simply replied, “Mis padres no tienen dinero” (My parents don’t have any money), which is to say, they couldn’t afford shoes and socks for her. Moved by her sad plight, I took off my sock, put it on her bare foot, and told her to be careful. After thanking the medical staff one more time, she slowly limped away. That night, I cried myself to sleep. This is the story of a six-year-old girl I met during a medical mission trip in 2006.

Knowledge can indeed be a curse. Every member of the medical team realized that the girl had a slim chance of surviving such an injury, especially with her financial difficulties and the infection that had set in. Nevertheless, we were forced to pretend that she would be okay. We found little solace in the small comfort we provided her. In all likelihood, she is now dead, since her parents probably would not forgo essential needs, such as food and fuel, to pay for the medical treatment she needed. This is not a unique story in third-world nations, where poverty is the norm and the economic oppression of oligarchic rule cripples the lower classes.

As the son of Christian missionaries, service has defined my life. I have lived in England, where we worked with the marginalized Middle Eastern and Asian minorities. I have lived in Guatemala, where we encountered political oppression, inhumane poverty, and broken lives every time we turned around. I am now in America, where I have directed my service to my local hospital, food drives, and church music ministries. Furthermore, I have thrown myself into the newly available academic opportunities – AP courses, college summer programs, and scholarship societies. But I cannot forget the poor, the oppressed, and the needy all over the world. Their cries to be treated with dignity haunt me and inspire me to pursue my dreams ever faster.

As such, I have decided to apply to the very best colleges, in hopes of receiving an education that will direct me to medical school and eventually to the World Health Organization. There, I will fight for the welfare of the ignored, impoverished indigents for whom medical care is a distant dream. Some people have told me to tone down my dreams and to lower my goals. But when I remember holding a dying baby in my arms, when I remember how the little girl hobbled out of sight, when I remember hearing that a missionary was shot dead by a paramilitary group, I cannot. I must go on, in the hope that after many years, I might quote to my grandchildren:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”


The author's comments:
This was a college essay that was based on a real experience that I had during a mission trip to Guatemala; I wrote it simply as a means of expressing myself, and hope that others may understand the harsh realities in third-world nations.

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This article has 31 comments.


on Oct. 9 2012 at 8:50 pm
justliveyourlife02 BRONZE, Mahopac, New York
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
Just hang on tight and enjoy the rollercoaster that is life.

Guaranteed acceptance into college. (:

gokuuu said...
on May. 30 2012 at 11:36 pm
Sad and inspiring story.

on May. 21 2012 at 8:39 am

This is a very saddening but a very touchening story that will soften the deep heart inside. This is a good story of humanity for all to see...

P.S. To the author: its very kind of you to give her your sock.


on May. 8 2012 at 2:56 pm
CrystalAngelDol SILVER, Queens, New York
7 articles 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
Never tell your problems to anyone...20% don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them.
- Lou Holtz

one word, AWESOME!

Jiyala said...
on Dec. 29 2011 at 1:12 pm
I m glad to become a member of teen ink`s chat

ANAMENDEZ said...
on Oct. 21 2011 at 11:12 pm
I truly loved this article, the message is heart touching. I am from Guatemala and every single day, someone asks for help, it's tough. But after all, life here has made of me a strong woman with desires to change my community and the world as a whole. Every single person deserves opportunities and a good life. 

Kajungh said...
on Oct. 10 2011 at 12:31 am
Kajungh, Seoul, Other
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
This is amazing piece. Your experience with the six year old girl makes this piece come alive!! I always wanted to help the desperate but you already done so!

on Jul. 22 2010 at 2:29 pm
deus-ex-machina14 BRONZE, Stewartsville, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 439 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There are two main tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." -Oscar Wilde

Fantastic writing, great message portrayed, and I loved it!! Great job!

Nyrihaz said...
on Jun. 30 2010 at 10:41 pm
Nyrihaz, Isabela, Other
0 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Listen to the screams a silent room makes"

Your simple piece is very powerful and it moved me to silence and tears. It carries meaning and feeling and that spice of misery that makes it perfect. Is good to see that there are still people that think like we all should think. I hope the best for you in the world. You will become a great doctor one day, without a doubt with God's help. Don't let go of your dreams and goals--they are noble. Taking the less traveled road is worth the try after all.

God bless you always!

Sincerly,
Zahiryn.


CynnaBunn said...
on Jun. 30 2010 at 12:12 pm
This statment was so powerful....iunderstand where you are coming from with this story. :-)

on Jun. 8 2010 at 1:03 pm
Ms.Understood, Laramie, Wyoming
0 articles 0 photos 82 comments

I agree...you are right about coming across  a decision and chosing only one road but the author is saying he's taking the path less traveled less expected to be traveled which is stated in Frost's poem. It is also the path proven to be the most difficult.

And yes you can know whether you've chosen the right path in the end...It's something you feel within yourself. It's not what anyone else thinks. It's what you yourself thinks...

(To the author) God bless you and continue to do what you do inspite of the many protests of the usage of Christianity.


on Jun. 8 2010 at 12:48 pm
Ms.Understood, Laramie, Wyoming
0 articles 0 photos 82 comments
You have accomplished your goals with this article. I would like to thank you. You've given me hope!

on Jun. 8 2010 at 12:45 pm
Ms.Understood, Laramie, Wyoming
0 articles 0 photos 82 comments

You know...I believe in miracles. I believe this world needs miracles and you are that. This world needs someone as willing and...understanding...this world needs you.

I thought this world was almost rid of people like you, but I'm glad I read this because it gives me hope. There are still some awesome people in the world! (relief!)


dancer13 GOLD said...
on May. 18 2010 at 7:34 am
dancer13 GOLD, Troy, Michigan
19 articles 0 photos 98 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them." ~Jane Austen

Exactly! :) Glad to know there are people who think like me out there.

on May. 17 2010 at 8:50 pm
she-is-a-witch, Towson, Maryland
0 articles 0 photos 33 comments
I agree.  I'm agnostic, and it sort of gets on my nerves when people try to force their religion on others, even if they're doing fantastic things in the process.

on May. 17 2010 at 8:47 pm
she-is-a-witch, Towson, Maryland
0 articles 0 photos 33 comments

Terrible and wonderful.

I've never had any experiences like yours, but I'd love to go into medical school, and use that to help people. 

It kills me that as I type this on a laptop, with my backpack full of books at my feet, surrounded by books and shoes and pictures and clothes and schoolwork, a child is starving, a person is dying from something so preventable, someone is in pain, a child is not going to school, a girl is being beaten....


qwerty42 GOLD said...
on May. 17 2010 at 5:11 pm
qwerty42 GOLD, Waverly, Kentucky
13 articles 10 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
Do or do not, there is no try. -Yoda

i've lived in a 3rd world country before, and i completely sympathise. this is just one example of how America is so blessed, and yet we often seem to take our wealth for granted.

on May. 17 2010 at 5:01 pm
Lost-In-Life GOLD, Whitby, Other
11 articles 0 photos 299 comments

Favorite Quote:
It's never to late, if it weren't for the last minute many things would never get done!

I have not had as vivid an experience as you, but I definitely feel the same way. This a great, well-written article and I'm so glad you posted it on Teen-Ink. Keep writing!

on Apr. 25 2010 at 11:08 am
Grasshopper007 GOLD, Hamilton, Other
15 articles 0 photos 20 comments
I agree with you

dancer13 GOLD said...
on Apr. 3 2010 at 4:28 pm
dancer13 GOLD, Troy, Michigan
19 articles 0 photos 98 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them." ~Jane Austen

This is truly amazing work that you're doing. I'm glad that people see the need to do work like this...my concern with mission trips is that they also serve to convert others (usually to Christianity), and sometimes I wonder if that's necessarily the best way to do service...




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