Mission Trip Reveals Joy Amid Suffering
| by MNU News firstname.lastname@example.org
Rather than take a well-deserved vacation during Spring break, sixteen MNU nursing students traveled to a Haitian orphanage that is home to 140 children. At Global Vision Citadelle Ministries orphanage in Mirebalais, Haiti, many of the ‘orphans’ still have living parents, but the parents cannot provide for them, so they gave them to the orphanage. Having a wonderful time together, the children and students enjoyed playing games and singing worship songs and upon our departure many students were sad to leave--they had become quite attached to the children.
During our stay the students provided medical care to patients as young as four weeks old and as elderly as 109. Traveling to remote areas in the mountains we set up mobile clinics in impoverished rural areas of Haiti. Under the direction of myself and Laurie Brooks, RN, MSN, students completed physical assessments and determined, whether medication was appropriate to dispense. The students also performed patient education with the assistance of an interpreter.
The students treated a variety of problems such as skin infections resulting from the use of dirty water and from insect bites which are prolific in tropical areas. Many individuals suffered from malnutrition and an overall lack of health care. We also witnessed some of the damage still present from the 2010 earthquake that devastated the nation.
Students remarked that their lives were changed by the experience. Although they spent hours in training prior to the trip to learn about Haiti and its people, they were stunned by the level of abject poverty and the fact that the Haitian people seemed quite happy in spite of their circumstances.
Senior Selena de Leon (’15) says she was humbled by the number of people who were patiently waiting for treatment each day.
“We usually arrived early in the morning only to find out that the people had already been waiting for hours; most of them walked miles to the clinic with their children,” Selena says.
This in particular drove home for the students the absence of health care in this population. And, remarkably, when the people were seen after a very long wait, they were pleasant and so very grateful.
The students may have been a little surprised at the Haitian’s religious fervor and commitment to Jesus. At one of our mobile clinics, the Haitians sang church hymns while they waited. It was a beautiful experience as they sang, in Creole, the same hymns we sang growing up in America. On our last day in Haiti, the pastor of the church where we had our clinic invited us to his home for freshly cooked vegetables and rice his wife prepared. The students were grateful for the gesture knowing how much it cost the pastor to do this.
Having returned to MNU the majority of the students still talk about their commitment to return to Haiti to be involved with medical missions. Realistically, I can envision this being a real distinct possibility for many of them. The depth of the impression this experience will leave with them is incalculable
It is literally impossible to prepare students for some of the experiences they had. For example, how does one give a child to an orphanage? It is difficult for someone from the U.S. to understand until one learns that the fortunate children there are the ones in the orphanage who get to go to school and are fed twice a day. In the villages, we worked with some children who eat every other day. As a result of observing such hardships it was very important for us to have casual ‘debriefing’ meetings and evening devotionals every day. We continued this with a formal debriefing session for the students to express and process the feelings they have had since returning home.
So why do we continue the tradition of mission trips to underserved areas of the world? Nursing senior Kaley Flack sums it up it well.
“It is amazing that sometimes we have to get outside of our world to be able to gain a new perspective,” says Kaley. “I would tell nursing students to go on a mission trip. It will change their nursing outlook and give them a greater sense of calling and purpose for the skills they have learned.”