University of California, Irvine

On behalf of GMT board at UCI 2011-2012, we would like to thank Wilbur and his family for truly inspiring us. We would also want to share our experiences with him and how he affected us individually. We now have the motivation we need in order to accomplish our goals in our chosen health profession.We are proud to be able to sponsor him and his family and we wish him the best of luck in his rehabilitation efforts.

“The experience that I gained from going to the Nicaragua trip of September 2011 turned out to be life changing once again, and every time I attend these trips the amount in which I gain seems to be limitless. This is my second time attending a trip with the GMT team and it has never failed to teach me something new. The GMT staff have inspired and taught me many things about the attitude and heart I needed to help me thrive in the medical field. The first trip I attended, which was to Nicaragua September 2010, the activities I have done had made it clear for me that it was the medical field in which I wished to live my life in. I have learned from participating in these trips that both heart and knowledge are required to become a successful physician. Although knowledge can lead you to many truths, it will not lead to the maximum support for a patient without the ability to understand what the patient is going through, the motivation to understand further knowledge and cases, and passion to strive for success and change. I believe that it was the doctors that were with me in Nicaragua such as Dr. Will Johnson, Dra. Angie, and Dr. Juan Carlos that have shown me this lesson by assisting them in clinical care and allowing us to interact with many underprivileged families and individuals are were willing to tell us their stories and even cases of their disease. Although we were able to support the needy with comfort and interaction, as you interact with these patients you begin to realize how as a undergraduate student, you are not able to do anything in terms of healthcare and treating the patient. This gave me a clear mindset to gain the knowledge by going to medical school and was one of the sources of my motivation ever since. It was on the second trip in which I realized that we, as undergraduate students, the support those in Nicaragua in greater levels than we have imagined. Wilber was the man we had met in the second trip and decided to sponsor as we work for our dreams at University of California Irvine so that we may support him in his efforts to become healthy by providing him with transportation to get to the hospital through fundraisers, which have now become a major part or activities in the GMT chapter of UC Irvine. Proper communication is also something I have learned to be very important trait to keep in mind of. The Coordinators and Translators have also done an amazing job in showing the culture helping us communicate with the patients. As one of the victims of being under the influence of GMT, I wish to be able to gain the knowledge and a stronger heart to provide and excel in healthcare and someday visit other underprivileged communities to do what I would do best as a future physician.”

-Peter Kuon, President

“It’s easy to take the little things for granted. I am constantly discovering new things to complain about, the weather, homework, midterms just to name a few. When I met Wilbur I was blown away about how much he didn’t complain. The story of Wilbur has really affected me. I met Wilbur during my second GMT trip. Being my second GMT trip I was already expecting a life-changing experience, but nothing like how Wilbur affected me. I was fortunate enough to be one of the people to meet him at the hospital and hear his amazing story. He went to the hospital in order to get a cafeter, because he wasn’t able to expel his urine. He was recently attacked while he was buying food from his family and this resulted in him being paralyzed from the waist down. Our club decided to pay for his transportation to a physical therapy clinic in order to rehabilitate him. I could tell he was in constant pain, but I will never forget the look on his face when we told him that our club would be sponsoring him. He had enough strength to smile and express how grateful he was. I never encountered anyone so genuinely appreciative of what we were doing for him and his family. Transportation seems like such a simple pleasure, that all of us often take for granted. When we initially met him he was in a wheelchair that didn’t even support his feet. He was already in so much pain and he still had to endure this discomfort this wheelchair gave him. I was extremely happy when Dra. Angie informed us that GMT would be providing a brand new wheelchair for him. I wish I could do more for Wilbur and his family, but our time in Nicaragua was extremely short. I hope to return again once I am an established physician and truly make a difference. I still can’t believe how incredibly lucky I am to go on GMT trips and see the difference this organization does for struggling countries like Nicaragua. Wilbur truly inspires us to become a better organization at UCI. Now, we have a responsibility to Wilbur and his family to fundraise and raise awareness about the living/health conditions in Central America. I am fortunate enough to share my experience first hand. I recently started the board position of volunteer coordinator in order to help our local community. Although it is important to volunteer abroad, there are still many struggling families in our own community that need our assistance too. Before going on a GMT I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. One thing I did know was that I wanted to make a difference in this world. Becoming a physician would be everything to me because I seen amazing doctors, like Dr. Will Johnson, Dra. Angelica Torrentes, and Dra. Karen Zapata, make a huge impact on the communities they visit.”

-Jennifer Padolina, Social Chair/Volunteer Coordinator

“I was one of the students there who did not have a chance to see him at the hospital. First time I heard about him was from my friend Jenny. She told the news about how our club will be sponsoring someone. I was really happy for Wilbur after hearing the story about what exactly happened. I didn’t really hear detail about what he did as his work but I instantly knew that his whole family was going to suffer greatly because of his unfortunate accident. I was actually excited for the next day to actually meet him. Before we went to set up a clinic, we made a quick stop at his house. All of us, about 50 plus or more, were able to straddle into his house, got to meet his whole family and finally got to see the Wilbur on his new wheelchair our club bought him. The story goes that he didn’t have a good wheelchair that supported his feet. The old wheelchair was not even his to begin with and that fact that they were not able to provide a new one was really stricken to hear.

As we got to his house, rooftops open or crack, metals on top of another to support them from shine or rain. One light bulb shined dimly across the whole darken house. The floor, was all dirt. You can instantly tell it is not very sanitary. We made our way to the backyard where everyone was.

A little girl in a pink dress was always right by Wilbur. He was a middle-aged man, but I noticed he did not smile a lot. He was still hurt in a sense that he could not move his arms very much. Although he was getting better he needed our help to provide transportation to the hospital to get therapy.  I love that our club took a step forward and made a commitment to make someone’s life better. It could have been anyone at the hospital but the fact that it was his family, I can tell all of them were very grateful, his wife, his parents, and his kids.  Because he is providing money to his family to get transportation, I hope his therapy helps him get better.

As a historian for our club, I also had my camera in my hand, taking pictures and videos of Nicaragua. I was able to interact with Wilbur, but one of my favorite moments was when he smiled after showing the picture of our club with him. His genuine smile made my trip quite an experience. One smile I will never forget. “

– Maki Nakamura, Historian

“Wilbur is an immensely inspirational figure and meeting him was one of the highlights of an incredible trip. After a series of uneventful hospital visits, I started to become discouraged on how many medical procedures I would be able to experience. On the first clinic day, a small group was taken to a nearby health clinic to see the conditions and hopefully shadow a doctor. No doctors were available but we had the opportunity to visit an expecting mother in her hospital room. Unfortunately for the males in the group, the mother would only let the girls observe her through tests and labor.

Our second visit to a different hospital was cut short because there was no need for volunteers on account of a hospital event. Instead, we went back to the clinic from the first day and the girls in the group went to observe pap smears. Once again, being male limited what I could do and see at the hospital. Disappointment was shared while we waited in the ER. Then, almost like an answer to our frustrations, we were invited to a patient’s room to observe the insertion of a catheter. We were introduced to Wilbur and initially I was surprised that he agreed to let complete strangers watch this personal operation. Through a translator, we were able to hear his story. Wilbur was partially paralyzed and some of his other nervous system functions were compromised after being stabbed in the neck when he was being robbed. As such, his family lost a significant source of income with the addition of hospital and transport fees. Wilbur had to borrow a wheelchair and had to travel to this clinic every week, which is miles away from his home. Nevertheless, Wilbur remained resolutely hopeful and put his fate in God’s hands. His unwavering faith put my own meaningless complaints in perspective. Despite his predicament, he put his visitors and others ahead of his own potential embarrassment. When asked why he let us watch the catheter insertion, Wilbur replied that this possible learning experience went beyond his own selfish reservations. He reassured us that whatever knowledge we took from this event would be used to help others in the future. This act of complete selflessness is what really brought a tear to my eye. It was humbling that an individual in Wilbur’s position was still receptive to the needs of others, in spite of his own brush with the wickedness of man. In my head, I tried putting myself in his position, yet I could never see myself with his optimism and faith in others after the tragedy that had befallen him.”

– Brian Agustin, Secretary

“Wilber’s story is an example of how quickly our lives can change. Wilber’s
life was not the very best to begin with but after his stabbing incident
it all got worse.  He and his family went from worrying about what to eat
for their next meal to now having to cope with Wilber’s new condition. I
felt like this is just a glimpse of what the overall population of
nicaragua deals with. It makes me feel a little better about what I have
and motivates me to pursue my career goals in the health field so I can
make a difference in peoples lives. But for now all i can do is do my job
as a gmt’s fundraiser chair and hope that my contributions will help
wilber to walk again. Knowing that Wilber’s chances to walk again depends
on the quality of my work motivates me work harder.”

-Vincent Caganot, Fundraising Chair