We’re excited that from July 13-22, 2007, Northwest Pediatric Center sent thirty staff members and local volunteers to the Dominican Republic on a medical mission trip. We worked with Medical Ministry International whose local headquarters were in Sabana Grande de Boya.
While in the Dominican, we treated 763 adults and 291 children in nine different rural villages and in the local hospital. We also prescribed nearly 2800 vitamins, wormers, and other much-needed medications. Refractions and eye glasses were given to dozens of patients and over 1000 people received vital teaching in health education. In addition, 62 people professed new-found faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
During the health education classes, our staff taught the villagers the importance of good handwashing in preventing the spread of disease. Other health education topics included nutrition, prevention of osteoporosis, heart health, cancer prevention, female reproductive concerns, sexually transmitted diseases, ear infections, and gastrointestinal illness.
A Dominican dentist traveled with us as well, extracting rotted teeth and varnishing teeth with fluoride. All of the children received toothpaste and colorful toothbrushes, which they eagerly put to use after receiving a demonstration on how to use them properly to prevent tooth decay.
The villages in which we worked were called bateys, hidden clusters of shacks which housed primarily Haitian refugees and poor Dominican nationals. We saw on average 85-90 patients a day amidst lush tropical fruit trees and rolling green hills. Most days the temperatures ranged in the 90’s with 70% plus humidity. Patients had the usual tropical diseases such as scabies and parasitic infestations, in addition to heart disease, gastrointestinal illness, asthma, and bacterial infections.
For many of our employees, this trip represented their first experience outside the U.S. and their first opportunity to minister among some of the world’s poorest people. Our hope is to provide opportunities for our staff to explore the mission field at least once every two years.