Watch scenes from Ricardo’s life-changing trip back to Mexico, then scroll down to see how Delta made it possible.
Ricardo comes from a long line of healers.
His grandfather was a shaman, someone who exercises healing practices without a medical degree, in Portuguesa, Venezuela. His father, Alí, is a physician and works in his hometown in Venezuela, devoting his life to his patients and their families.
So, it’s no surprise Ricardo followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and became a health care professional. He’s currently living in Atlanta, where he’s studying for the United States Medical Licensing Exam so he can practice in the U.S.
And it’s that generosity of spirit that lead him to enter Delta’s My Next Trip Back Contest.
“Initially I was looking for an airline ticket and suddenly clicked … to the Delta homepage,” Ricardo said.
That’s where he saw an announcement for the contest.
“I entered and made a video explaining that in my next trip to Latin America I would want to reunite with my dad and bring free medical consultations to the community,” he said.
And just a few weeks later, Ricardo was shocked to learn he’d won!
He had another surprise waiting for him in Mexico.
Ricardo traveled to the Cristo Rey community in Solidaridad, Mexico.
At first, Delta told Ricardo his father would not be able to join him on this adventure, but it was all an elaborate ruse to surprise him!
Once father and son reunited, they were joined by a local physician and medical student from Mexico. This small but mighty team traveled in a mobile home throughout the city’s lower-income neighborhoods to distribute care. They visited nearly 200 people in need over the course of a week.
Many of the ailments and illnesses they saw were due to the conditions of the remote, rural community.
According to Ricardo, the most prevalent diseases they saw were things like urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, skin dermatitis, and parasitic diseases that cause diarrhea in children, which can lead to malnutrition.
The tragic part? A lot of them are completely preventable with the right access to information.
That’s why Ricardo is so passionate about education and outreach.
“I think that if the public were informed through educational talks and better health education, some recurring illnesses could be prevented and thus reduce the level of incidence of [these] diseases.” he said.
Everywhere they went, Ricardo and the team shared joy, kindness, and their medical expertise.
With help from Delta, Ricardo was able to donate blankets, toys, first aid kits, and medicine to the people and facilities that needed it the most. He even made time to visit two elementary schools, where they donated first aid kits and gave talks on how to prevent parasites and other diseases.
And while parasites may not be the most enjoyable talk for kids, Ricardo is confident his visit made a lasting impression. “Even if not everyone we visited paid us much attention, we know we made a spiritual impact on everyone,” he said. “We changed realities.”
And they made time for some fun stuff too.
Now back home in Atlanta, Ricardo continues to be a force for good.
“If you have received help in your life, help! Your help has the power to change others’ realities,” Ricardo said.
Winning the Delta contest has inspired him to encourage others to get involved in their communities. He even offered some advice to others looking to get started.
“No one can change the world in one day,” he said. “The idea is to start with small steps.”