Read the Q&A about a recent mission trip taken by one of the Lacks Cancer Center’s physician assistants, Abby Rogers:
What compelled you to take a mission trip? I had always wanted to do a mission trip and it really was burning inside of me during college to make that happen. Unfortunately being a poor college student and studying hard to become a physician assistant, I just never got the opportunity. This year my church focused completely on mission trips one Sunday service. I felt pushed over the edge that I was teetering on. I HAD to go. I also had been receiving brochures from Praying Pelican Missions since college and just happened to get another one just about the same time. God was telling me something. There was a mission trip scheduled for April, but it was when my husband had his military training. Praying that it would work out, my husband was able to change his training schedule and before we knew it, we had booked our trip to Belize to go together, from April 4-11.
Where did you go and stay in Belize? After we landed in Belize on April 4, we drove about two hours west of Belize City into San Ignacio and slept on bunk beds in an old orphanage. We traveled around Belize and spent a majority of our time in a small town called Shawville. We set up four medical clinics in very rural areas and opened it to whoever could come. We had a doctor, and three nurses and me, and we all worked so incredibly hard to see as many people as we could, seeing about 500 people in the four clinics all together. They were incredibly thankful and grateful for our team.
Who did you treat and what diseases did you see? We mainly saw women and children. We treated lots of hypertension, diabetes, anemia, ear infections and UTIs, just to name a few. Many needed dental care, and all we could hand out was toothbrushes and toothpaste to many of the children. We also had many eye issues that needed the care of an ophthalmologist.
Why are medical missions trips needed in Belize?
For the people of Belize, there is very little access to health care unless you have the money to pay a private doctor. After seeing us, many would cross the border to Guatemala, which was just two miles away. They have better access over there and it would be less expensive. We would write down names of those we would have liked to get to surgeons or specialists.
We left behind money to the family that we worked with in hopes that we could schedule them appointments even after we had left the country. We brought many supplies with us but this was the first medical mission to the area, and we weren’t exactly sure what we would be seeing, so we often found ourselves going to the pharmacy the next day to buy certain prescription medications, get a second glucometer or even buy some vitamins and iron for many of the women and children. We educated on health and hygiene, but knowing what little access they had to change in diet, we had to work around that.
What was your overall takeaway? A rewarding experience by far. I hope this is the first mission of many for me and also my family.