Batey 50 :: Photo by Paige Culbreth
Hey, this is probably going to be my last post from the Dominican. I figured I’d provide a generic overview of my time here because my posts haven’t exactly been the standard “Today I went to….” Also, I want to thank Sarla Chand, Angela Sudermann, Kristy Engel, my parents, and everyone else who made this trip possible!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! It was a phenomenal and worthwhile experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. —-
I just spent the last month in the Dominican Republic working as an International Missions volunteer. What started out as a cut and dry medical internship quickly grew into a total life changing experience. I began my work with a Dominican doctor named Denny Benitez, who is one of the most phenomenal and kind-hearted people I believe I will ever meet. I got to shadow him while missions teams came down and worked medical clinics in the bateyes.
Not all teams were equipped with nurses or doctors, so often I ended up doing construction at the hospital or in another batey, but I got to spend most of my time helping with patients, taking blood pressures, and sorting medicine in our makeshift pharmacies. A typical day, med clinic or not, began at 7:00am at Casa Pastoral (the missions dorm) where I would eat breakfast and help load the buses for whatever team was down that week. We’d usually head out to a batey, or the hospital, around 8am and depending on how far away they were we would arrive anywhere from 8:30am to 9:45am. If we were doing construction we would mostly work with concrete or sand to help build either houses or the third/fourth floor of the hospital, but the medclinics were a little bit more complicated. We would arrive in a batey and set up either in a church or schoolhouse (typically the only building that was big enough to hold all of the doctors and medicine). Doctors and nurses had their own stations on pews, and the pharmacy was set up in the front with cartons of medicine surrounding the pulpit. Patients would enter the building, get weighed, get vitals taken (blood pressure and temperature), see a physician, and then receive their medication. More often than not, the process worked quite smoothly and we were able to see anywhere from 80 to 150 patients in a day. We usually worked until around 4, or until we saw everybody that needed medical attention, and then would pack up to head back to Casa Pastoral for dinner.
The days were long, no doubt, as we often had to help count pills and sort medicine after dinner, sometimes not going to bed until midnight only to wake up at 6:30am the next morning to do it all again. But I know that we all felt blessed for the opportunity to do what we could, and though our living conditions were never quite “5-star”, we went to sleep at night knowing that they were 1,000 times better than those of the people in the bateyes.
More often than not, the teams that arrived were Christian based, and we would attend church, sing, worship, and pray together, allowing for some of the most enriching discussions and meditations. But even with all our bible talk and worship music, we could barely even touch the faith of the Dominicans in the bateyes. It always amazed me that no matter how hard life was, most of them woke up every day with a smile and when they praised God, they danced with the energy of children on redbull, rejoicing to the heavens. What an incredible inspiration they are, those who have so little yet so much more than I can ever hope to have.
These past 30 days have been some of the most challenging and frustrating of my life, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have been inspired beyond words, and can only hope that I will continue to think back on the bateyes and tap into the sheer joy that they have, no matter what the circumstances. I will never forget this month, so thank you again to all who have been praying and supporting me throughout my trip. I am forever grateful.
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