When Kaila, Assistant Vitamin Manager at Sprouts Farmers Market in Redondo Beach, learned the company was running a contest to go on a trip with Vitamin Angels, she did not anticipate the profound impact it would have on her life. The contest asked entrants to respond to the prompt “If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?”. Kaila crafted her entry about changing education from a privilege to a right. In her response, she recounted how her grandmother, who was a teacher, had set up college funds for all of her grandchildren so they could each further their own education.
Education and helping others were fresh on Kaila’s mind as she had recently applied to a nursing program. “I had wanted to go to nursing school for as long as I could remember,” she said, “I always wanted to do something that I felt was making a difference, and where I could help people.” However, when she wasn’t accepted to the competitive program, Kaila accepted admission to San Francisco State as a philosophy major figuring “if nursing was meant to be, I could do it later in life.”
A few weeks later, Kaila was at the gym when she received a phone call – she had won the essay contest! In just one month she would be traveling to Honduras to observe vitamin distributions firsthand. Preferring to immerse herself in cultural experiences and to spend time with the locals rather than simply visiting tourist attractions, Kaila was a perfect candidate for a trip with Vitamin Angels.
Upon arrival, Kaila and the Vitamin Angels team were greeted warmly by our local partners, Feed the Children, and by local families that were “all so welcoming and appreciative, offering us food and juice, and anything they had.” One of the families explained that since they live near the mountains, whenever it rains, it creates a mudslide, and limits their access to basic services, food, and water. The mother sold spices to make money to feed her family. Kaila recalled how tightly-knit many of the families were, “everyone is family-oriented” she recalled. And also how resourceful they could be, “everything they have, they pretty much build from the ground up, everyone would use trash for parts of the house.” She played with the children, and was inspired by the joyful nature of those she met, noting that “these people were some of the happiest people I have ever met, even though they have close to nothing.”
Spending time in Honduras left Kaila with life-changing takeaways, “it is something that has made an impact on me every day” she said, “it made me realize what is truly important.” In fact, her experience in Honduras and the people she met inspired her to finally take the next step in pursuing her dream to become a nurse, “after Honduras, I realized there is no point in wasting my time when I know that nursing is what I want to do” she said.
Recently she enrolled in a nursing program at West Coast University, and she is on track to graduate with her Bachelor’s of Nursing in 2020. She aspires to become a pediatric nurse and intends to seek out opportunities to travel internationally using her profession to help communities, like the one she visited in Honduras, around the world.
This trip “changed my mindset and made me realize that I have so much to be thankful for,” Kaila explained, a sentiment echoed by many of those who visit the communities we serve around the world.