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Day 14

 

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Thursday, July 28th 2011

To say that the past week has been one of the best of my life would be an understatement. I came to this country in hopes that I would be able to help people and make a difference in their lives. Yet what has surprised me the most is the difference they have made to mine. Each day brought about new faces and new experiences, but what seems to remain a constant is the gratitude the people of the Dominican Republic express to us. Upon arriving each morning we are greeted with excited faces and hugs, and this is before we even begin to help people. In a closing discussion today at our guest house we reflected upon just how little these people had but yet they were still so happy. Simple things such as a bar of soap or a tooth brush were so highly appreciated by the people.

On the third day a few people from my group including myself were blessed enough to get the chance to go on a house call. Upon arriving there we were shocked to see a young gentleman with some sort of disease which had left him immobile and unable to speak. Although this was a very sad sight, the care that his mother took of him amazed me. He has been immobile for many years now, yet has had no skin breakdown or sores from being unable to move. From working in a hospital many of us know that this can only be accomplished through extensive care and meticulous hygiene. The house they lived in had no running water, yet the mother was still able to accomplish this no matter if it meant walking a mile for clean water. At the end of our visit to their “casa” we left with a prayer, which brought many of us to tears, and definitely made a huge impact on our prospective.

Another awesome experience that a few of us were able to participate in was working with an oral surgeon and his daughter. Many of the people of the Dominican are unable to afford or access dental hygiene products and most will rarely ever see a dentist. They live with rotten, painful, infected teeth on a daily basis. With the blessing of having the oral surgeon, we were able to help these people and relieve them from a tooth (or five!) that had been causing them pain for years. It was humbling to see how grateful they were to just have the tooth removed and not worry about the cosmetic affect. Multiple teeth that were removed were so severely infected that had they not been removed, the result would eventually lead to a whole body infection. Doing a task as simple as removing one tooth helped save many lives. An important issue that we continually hit on is education. After having their tooth (or teeth) removed they were sent over to receive education and dental hygiene products. Our group as a whole discussed the importance of the difference between “touching” and “changing” lives. We have touched many lives through our medicine this week but our larger goal is to change lives through education. As the saying goes, “you can give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, or you can teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life”.

I know many of us were very nervous and excited for this week, and questioning how this was trip was going to go. Being a transfer into Ohio Northern University I only had a few friends around campus, but after this week I have made friends which I will cherish for the rest of my life. I think I speak for our group as a whole when I say THANK YOU to everyone who supported us and helped get us here. This has been a life changing experience which I will forever hold dear to my heart.

-Katie Goodnight
Senior, Nursing
Solon, Ohio