Thinking back to our first QU 301 class about six months ago, I remember how excited I was to learn about a new culture, a culture that I would eventually be able to experience first-hand. Those six months leading up to the mission trip flew by, and before I knew it, I was helping the Haitian immigrants in the Bateyes in the Dominican Republic. One of the topics we touched upon in class that struck me was healthcare. The people in the Bateyes have no stability when it comes to healthcare, and the problems they face on a day to day basis are trivial to us in America because we have quick and easy solutions. I was assigned to be on the medical team for the trip, and although I was a little hesitant at first, it was the best team for me to be a part of. Going to a different Batey every day with the medical clinic teaches you a lot if your’e observant and want to learn. I saw the poverty and the emotional struggle of those people, just from attending to their medical needs. I helped out with blood pressure and temperature; both were calculated after the patients’ heights and weights were completed. These vitals are so simplistic and yet they tell so much about the condition of a person’s health, so needless to say, I was extremely happy to be the one to help analyze all of the results.
There was a variety of cases that the clinic needed to attend to, all of them important, all of them interesting to observe. There was a fourteen year old girl that came in pregnant (among many other young pregnant girls), there were many people who needed dental work done and I saw a few of them get their teeth pulled right then and there, and there were people who had broken body parts that needed medication and bandages. But by far the most heart-breaking situation that we all experienced was about a baby boy named Christian, who was no more than a year old. His grandmother walked him into the clinic and his eyes were wide open and not blinking. In all honesty, the poor baby looked almost dead—it was a very scary thing. My friend took his temperature and it came out to be 104 degrees. We rushed him to the doctor and quickly they gave him motrin, water, and put a wet cloth on him. Christian had so many problems that all babies should not have at a couple months old; we later found out that he was so unbelievably dehydrated, he had not been fed/breast fed in weeks because of his mother’s absence, and he had the fever four days prior to coming into the clinic. The doctor brought down his fever to 101 and then sent him with his grandmother, to the hospital for further care. By the time he left the clinic, he looked ten times better than when he first came in. I couldn’t help but think of what would’ve happened to Christian if the clinic wasn’t there that day. I pray and think of him often because he has his entire life ahead of him and it would be a terrible thing if it all ended because of the lack of care he was given.
This story, on top of everything else that I experienced on the medical team, proved to me even more that in America (and all other non-impoverished countries), people take healthcare for granted. I know that if I had a baby who had even the slightest fever of 99, I would take him or her immediately to the doctor to be checked, and it would not be a big deal. It is astounding to consider a life without these simple “luxuries”, especially because we are fortunate enough to have access to clean water, food, and governmental care. The impact, from being in the clinic, was a great one for me. I honestly wish that every person was able to see the things I did; we take so many things for granted here—it’s time that we started being grateful for the simplest things. This trip has changed my ways of thinking more than anyone could ever know, and for that reason, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Maybe and hopefully some day, I can go back and aid the people in the Dominican Republic once more. But until then, I hope that each day gets a little better for them because for such kind and loving people, they do not deserve the hardships they were given. My heart will always be with the DR.