As much I would like to be able to describe my experiences with the Jamaica trip to everyone, I know my words cannot come close to conveying the impact of this trip. As our mission leader said, only the eighteen of us will be able to understand our experiences. What we can do, though, is try to explain what happened in Jamaica during this past week with the hope that others will be inspired to travel abroad and make similar memories of their own.
We may have been in Jamaica for only a week, but upon my arrival back to Cincinnati, I feel I have been gone for months. The clinic work kept us busy from sunrise to sunset. We would come home exhausted, both emotionally and physically, but there is not one moment I regret. I gained firsthand experience in the medical field while growing individually and spiritually. It is easy to forget about the pain and suffering in the world when secluded in our safe community at Xavier with our new buildings, cars, clothes, etc. Whether or not we acknowledge that there are mothers unable to feed their children each day and people walking miles to work each day barefoot does not mean these sad situations don’t exist. I believe it is important for every student to make trips such as this in order to remind themselves of the suffering and motivate them to use their good fortune to help those in need and stop the suffering.
What I am most thankful for is being able to witness the human spirit at its best. Here were thirteen students, two faculty members, two nurses and one doctor giving their time and skills to help those less fortunate. I am so very thankful for meeting and getting to know the 17 amazing individuals who were with me during this week. Their kindness and faith is truly touching, and gives me hope for the future of our world. I know there are others with these same attributes scattered across our world, and that helps me stay optimistic for the future. Not only was the spirit of our group uplifting, but also the spirit of the Jamaican people. Despite their depressing situations, they were smiling and thanking God for their blessings. Our last station in the clinic was the prayer station, where we would offer the patients the opportunity to pray with us. The majority agreed and several offered prayers for us. It was almost ironic. These people are destitute, in situations we cannot even imagine spending one day in, yet they still want to ask God to keep us safe, healthy, and blessed. While part of me wanted to feel guilty accepting these prayers, I was also touched. If these individuals were able to keep their faith despite their suffering and pray for us, then there must be a power so much greater than ourselves guiding us and giving us strength to live. In a world of war, poverty, and illness, it is easy to forget about the good of the human nature. This trip helped show me how much can be achieved when the “good” of the world collaborate and work together.
Yes, I saw extremely sad, depressing situations. As much as I want to cast these memories from my mind, I am thankful to have experienced them. I can see the smiling faces of children given vitamins, the eyes of parents who have just received medications to cure their infection, hear the thanks of praise from voices of men, women, and children. I will keep these memories with me each day, and remind myself that no matter how difficult my life may seem, I must give thanks for the fact that I was born into a home where I was offered the opportunity to reach my dreams, whatever they may be. I have always had food on my plate when hungry, clothes on my back when home, and a home to protect myself from the cold. We all must recognize how blessed we are to be here and use our blessings to help those who have not been as fortunate.