It’s always been a dream for Sam Richey, BSN, RN, and Megan Morrison, BSN, RN, to travel on a medical mission. In February, their dreams came true when they represented NKCH in the annual Jamaican medical and dental mission trip organized by Board of Trustee member Bob McGee and other community groups.
Why They Do It
While this is Sam’s first trip, Megan has previously traveled to Haiti and Guatemala. Both nurses share a passion for helping others, whether at home or abroad. “I enjoy experiencing the different cultures and serving people who have less opportunity than we do here,” Megan said.
While the trip fulfilled a dream for Sam and Megan, it did much more for the people they helped, ranging in age from 3 months to 100 years. With a lack of transportation, many walked miles for medical care.
As an NKCH mother/baby nurse, Megan cuddled as many babies as possible. An irony is that the team had to be careful in verbalizing common phrases, like “I could just take you home.” Megan recalled a father who actually wanted to leave his child with them.
How They Helped
The medical teams treated health problems directly linked to a lack of resources widely available in the U.S. With no access to clean water, residents get intestinal parasites from drinking dirty river water. A lack of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables leads to unhealthy diets, diabetes and hypertension. “There is no running water, so people use river water. They can’t boil the water because they can’t afford electricity. Sometimes, they purchase sugary drinks instead of water,” Sam explained. Other complaints treated during the trip included flu symptoms, skin rashes and arthritis.
So Little But Thankful
Megan and Sam both feel the trip helped them reassess their own priorities. “You see people who are living in poverty and sometime starving, and they are grateful for a multivitamin or aspirin. Their perspective is so different than our country where people often feel entitled,” Megan said.
The doctors and nurses traveled to remote jungle areas to provide care during their week-long stay. Trips could take up to an hour on winding, dark and narrow jungle roads with potholes several feet deep and drop offs on either side.
2,200 patients seen
3,192 prescriptions given
820 teeth extracted
531 pairs of glasses provided
65 people with diabetes educated
People survive doing what they can. Some collect recycled items while others use their artistic skills to carve unique designs from bamboo.
Despite a meager existence, Sam witnessed such resilience among the Jamaican people she met. “Their hearts are so big and their attitude is no worries, and they mean it.”
Both Sam and Megan will forever remember the spirit and appreciation they encountered. “This experience was amazing. The Jamaican people are such wonderful, caring souls. Their souls are so beautiful and their hearts are so big,” Sam said.
The two nurses also will remember the experiences they shared with other members of the medical and dental teams. “It’s life changing and impacts you forever,” Sam said. “One of the mothers even wanted me to take her baby so the infant would have a better life.”