Thursday, January 21, 2010

Josh's reflections

This week in Jamaica was a powerful experience for everyone involved. For me, Jamaica was special in a different way. I have been to Jamaica 4 times prior to this interfaith medical trip. Three times in high school, we helped build the very structure we used to host our clinic 2.5 of the 4.5 days we were in Jamaica. When I came to Xavier I knew I wanted to bring my experiences in Jamaica to others in hopes that they would be as profoundly impacted as I had

Knowing that I would never be able to put together a trip of this magnitude alone I approached Rabbi Abie Ingber about helping make my dream a reality. After weeks of hypothetical discussion Abie said four words I will never forget: “The answer is YES,” and we were off. He brought his incredibly talented assistant Amy Wetterau into the planning and between the two of them, most of the miracles took place. The three of us spent a long Saturday carefully
combing through 52 applications and deciding whom we felt was best fit for the group of
13 students. Later that same week the majority of the fundraising began. We raked leaves, washed cars, worked UC Football games, and many other various fundraisers.

In November, just a few weeks into the fundraising, Abie and Amy broke the news to me that Tri-Health was going to provide substantial support for the trip. This news was nothing short of miraculous, and the other 12 students were also in shock and amazement. After more fundraising, a nearly naked mile, a night of pill packing, and countless hours of work by Abie and Amy we were ready to leave for Jamaica.

Once there it was a humbling and rewarding experience for everyone involved. The days in the clinic were long but rewarding. We worked 2.5 days in Steer Town, one day in Golden Spring, and one day in Liberty. All three communities welcomed us with open arms and were immensely grateful. Seeing 511 patients in 4.5 days is a feat that everyone on the trip can stand by with pride.

Everyone involved was professional and compassionate and I am honored to have served the Jamaican people alongside them. The most rewarding part of this entire experience to me was watching my classmates, all of whom are going to be wildly successful in their respective branches of medical service, take accurate vital signs or administer life saving medicine and then immediately hold the hand of their patient and say a prayer with them. Everyone on the trip knows that it is God who heals and we are merely instruments of his healing. After each day we had a chance to meet and debrief the days events, which at times was difficult considering some of the heart breaking situations we each witnessed.

Each person on the trip had a unique experience that will hopefully move them to continue to serve as loving, patient centered doctors, nurses and occupational therapists in the years to come.

Finally, it is my wish that everyone who attended will remember what it felt like to serve people that the rest of the world has forgotten, and I pray that one day when they are settled into their careers that they remember their Xavier days and find a way to continue to embody the Jesuit ideals that they exemplified in Jamaica.

Kevin's reflections

My trip to Jamaica was one that I will never forget. It came in a time of great personal growth and development in my life. As a college student, I often feel as if I am in limbo between my undergraduate and professional career. However, Jamaica brought these two together. Never before did I feel so right with what I was doing. This is not to say that I have never worked in medicine or with patients; I have spent a great deal of time in research and participated in an earlier medical mission in Nicaragua. However, Jamaica stands out for countless reasons.

First, the people of Jamaica made the trip so memorable. We were on the ground working out of churches and community centers. Because our patient population came directly from the surrounding neighborhood, we briefly experienced being a part of their community. In one instance, we saw four generations of a family come through the clinic during a single day.

Some of the people we met were not necessarily patients but representatives of the religious community. One night we sat down with a Rastafarian who talked with us about his beliefs. This gave us an entirely different perspective on religion. While many of us understood religion to be founded on the dogma a sect of people holds in common, he proposed that Rastafari is very much the opposite. He insisted it is a simply a way of life celebrated differently by every

Additionally, we had the privilege of sitting down with an Islamic Imam, who talked with us about the pillars of his faith. Interfaith was a much needed component of the trip. In our time of deep questioning, it allows us to better understand our place in the world through the faith traditions of those around us.

Medically, the trip was equally outstanding. Not only did we have the privilege of shadowing three excellent health professionals, but we were directly involved with the well being of our patients. After proper training, students took vitals, abstracted medical notes, and prepared medications. After returning to Xavier, this aspect of the trip will help encourage us in our studies by giving a taste of what we are working towards.