“We’ve been told to keep an open mind and to be very flexible,” laughed Edinger, 24. “The conditions will be the best they can be, but some villages – many actually – don’t even have running water.”
This fall, the Liberty High graduate and pharmacy student will be getting an education of a different sort when she and a group of fellow students travel to the Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia. While there, Edinger will be working in some of the pharmacies at the village health care clinics, administering treatment to hundreds of people every day.
“What I will be doing at the pharmacies is counting pills, performing glucose testing, pregnancy testing and dispensing medications,” said Edinger, who will be assisted by Cambodian medical students serving as translators. “Basically all of the things that are necessary to make a pharmacy run. And everything will be written by hand: no computers.”
Edinger was chosen to be part of a team of approximately 10 individuals from around the world who will be going to Cambodia in September on a medical mission trip. Currently a third-year pharmacy student at Loma Linda University in Southern California, the Brentwood native will be working in partnership with the Mission to the World organization, which operates under the auspices of the Presbyterian Churches of America.
While her work itinerary is clearly outlined, the remaining details of Edinger’s trip are less defined. Although the group knows that accommodations will be waiting for them, plans beyond that are currently fluid.
“We might be staying with a mission family or in a hotel – we don’t know and we might not know until we get there,” said Edinger. “That’s part of the flexible thing. All I know is that I’m getting on a plane and I don’t know what’s waiting for me on the other side.”
Whatever the trip brings, Edinger will go prepared. Her teachers and group organizers have already begun inundating the pharmacy students with books on Cambodian history, along with some practical advice as it pertains to the more esoteric aspects of life in a third-world country.
“Much of the information applies to avoiding getting sick,” said Edinger. “For example, you can’t have vegetables over there because they have to be treated in iodine and you can’t trust that is happening. So even in a restaurant, if you order a burger, you have to remove the lettuce and tomatoes. You have to wash your clothes in clometine to deter the mosquitos and you have to remember to put on your sunscreen before the DEET (mosquito repellent) or the DEET won’t work. Lots to remember and lots to know, but it’s going to be an amazing adventure.”
An adventure unlike any she has experienced. Although Edinger studied abroad in New Zealand for five weeks while in college, the upcoming trip to Cambodia is decidedly less lush. But according to one of her pharmacy school teachers, Jeany Jun, Edinger is up for the challenge.
“One never really knows how a person will respond in a stressful situation,” said Jun. “But I think Kristine shows much promise. She has a desire to help others, experience new things and is staying flexible with a heart to learning. I think she will do very well.”
Edinger thinks so, too.
“I got into pharmacy to help people, to make a difference,” she said. “I feel like my whole life I have been given a lot of opportunities, and now I want to give some back, to help someone else. I have no fears or apprehensions about the trip; just excitement. I can’t wait to go.”
To contribute to Edinger’s trip, make checks payable to Mission to the World; in the memo line, write “SA# 12168-Kristine Edinger.” All gifts are tax deductible and should be mailed to MTW, P.O. Box 116284, Atlanta, GA, 30368-6284. For additional information, e-mail Edinger at email@example.com.