After three days in Jamaica, we all started to have a routine: wake up, get ready, eat eggs, drink coffee, and file into the two blue buses with Willie and Mr. Miller (our amazing bus drivers) to start the day.
As the blue vans started driving down the rugged gravel roads, I still could not grasp the fact that we were driving on the opposite side of the road. The separation between each lane were so small that it felt like we were hugging the other drivers going the opposite direction. However, both Willie and Mr. Miller had no fear or hesitation. They swiftly diverted the pot holes, the sharp turns, and the other experienced drivers.
We started the day by heading to a day school for children. Remi (BSN ’17) took charge and started the education with hand washing. The children excitedly washed their hands in the court yard and then vigorously rubbed glo germ all over their fingers. With a black light, Remi and the other students demonstrated how well the kids performed the hand washing. The children’s eyes widened as their hands glowed. We knew that this activity captured their interest. We then followed the hand washing education with teaching children how to brush their teeth and how to eat a balanced meal. Dr. Ades would be proud!
We also continued to provide free health screenings to the educators of the school. They continuously smiled as we taught them about diet, exercise, and their overall health. Overjoyed with appreciation, they showered us with hugs and genuine compliments.
Filled with affirmation, we drove to Cornwall Regional Hospital where we were greeted by the Chief Nursing Officer, Marva Lawson-Byfield, at the Ministry of Health Jamaica. She intently started at us as she shared her love for her patients and for the career of nursing. “Nursing is an art and a science. The art is in the heart and the science is in the conscious.”
Her words reminded us of our choice in nursing and those words continued to resonate with us as we toured the different wards of the hospital. When we reflected afterwards about this humbling experience, we realized that different aspects of the hospital impacted us. Some of us recognized that their lack of an EMR system served them well and allowed them to break away from routine and use their minds to serve others. Some of us saw this as an overwhelming experience and how this hospital reminded them of why they decided to become nurses. Lastly, some of us witnessed nurses creating innovative solutions and loving care to their patients. Ms. Lawson-Byfield said it well when she ended her welcoming speech emphasizing how attitude towards your job and towards your patient is every thing.
With our stomachs growling, we headed to Juici Patties to culture ourselves with Jamaican patty. This flaky baked pastry shell contained different fillings (beef, chicken, or vegetables) that exploded in my mouth with a diverse mixture of mesmerizing spices.
We then continued our day with a Cornwall Regional Hospital Nurse Graduation. The soon to be nurses slowly walked into the church with their blue striped hats and their crisp white dresses. As I watched them, I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering to our own graduation either in either May or December of next year.
After sharing the experience with Jamaica’s future nurses, we ended our day with a children after school program that overlooked the lush Jamaican mountains. As our blue van slowly drove up to the gate, Candace (ABSN ’17) opened the van door and said “Change of plans”. As team lead with Blair (BSN ’17), they decisively directed five of us to quickly prepare a skit about bullying, delegated three of us to follow the skit with yoga, and sent two of us to the office to provide health screenings for the staff.
Prior to the skit, Dria (ABSN ’17) invited two of the children up to participate in the skit and stand up for the girl that was being bullied (me-Lisa, ABSN ’17). The girls courageously said “stop!” and stood in front of me to hinder Dria and Sarah (ABSN ’17) from their actions. Through this experience, we started to see their understanding and their strength.
Alex (BSN ’17) also creatively took a few females to the corner of the playground to discuss women’s health. Besides the unexpected rap performance by the girls, she ultimately created an open space for the girls to speak comfortably about being a women, about hormones, sex, and contraceptives.
Although the day was long, hot, and sweaty, we witnessed health promotion at work through each other and through the people of Jamaica. It’s amazing to see the amount of heart and commitment my peers have for those they serve. I am excited to see our next adventure tomorrow!