Posted on 21 April, 2016

Anindita Mishra had never left her home country of India and had never flown before she arrived in Rwanda, East Africa, for a volunteer surgical mission.


The perfusionist from Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital, knew she was about to embark on a massive personal journey when her boss asked her if she had a passport.

“The surgeon whom I work with in India has been working with some of the members of Open Heart International,” Anindita, who has been affectionately dubbed Annie, said.

“One day he came into work and he asked me if I had a passport and I said no because I have never travelled out of India before.

“This was in December and he said I should apply for one by February and I asked why, because if I apply for a passport, of course my parents will ask why?”

Anindita, who works in the hospital’s Paediatric Cardiac Centre based in Raipur Chattisgarh, learnt her boss wanted her to travel with Open Heart International as their perfusionist for two weeks.


“He said there is a group of people going to work outside of India,” she said.

“They are going to do some charity work and so you can join them.

“I got my passport one month before coming here, then the journey began.”

As a perfusionist, Anindita is part of the surgical team who has been operating on three children a day.

She operates the heart and lung machine, which keeps the patient alive while the heart is stopped to be operated on.

“This is exactly what I do every day at home because I work in a charitable set up and we do lots of cases,” she says.

“We do 100 cases monthly and we do not take any money, because it is for charity.”

Anindita confesses she was nervous traveling on her own for the first time.

“I was really scared because it meant new people, a new area, and I have never been on a plane,” she says.

“I have only ever travelled by road at home or train, there is no option to fly, and I am completely away from home on my own.”

The fact that Anindita is volunteering for a charity was what kept her motivated.

“Operating on the children and giving them some happiness I think is great,” she says.

“There is a thought in my mind that I was going for a good cause and this made me and everybody satisfied.

“The patients, I think they are the luckiest and should feel the luckiest because we are here to help them not because we are having a holiday.

“We have come all this way, thinking of people who have never met us.”

Despite the initial travel jitters, Anindita is hooked and wants to travel with Open Heart International again.


Tags:  East Africa,