We arrived in Kingston, Jamaica on Saturday. Dr. Ashley Darcy and Dr. Maureen Kelley are leading the trip and there are 9 senior nursing students and 2 junior nursing students. We will be in Kingston until next Saturday, January 12, working with the Missionaries of the Poor. This organization was founded in Jamaica in 1981 and is centered around the act of “joyful service.” Today, Missionaries of the Poor work in countries throughout the world with the common goal of community service for the poor. The men who make up the Missionaries of the Poor take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and service. In order to become a brother for life, you must go through 5 different stages in order to ensure that this lifelong commitment is right for each individual. The completion of all 5 stages takes around 9 years, and then you are admitted into the profession of selfless service in the name of the Missionaries of the Poor. In Kingston, there are 180 brothers undergoing training.
On Sunday, we had the opportunity to attend mass with all of the brothers, residents of the clinics, and people of the community. The service was so incredibly lively. While it lasted for 2 ½ hours, it was extremely powerful and moving. The people of Kingston are so incredibly welcoming and gave one of the Emory nursing students the opportunity to participate in the mass. She walked in with the Holy Bible before the priest and read the first scripture to the congregation. During offering, the people of the community presented food to the father instead of monetary gifts. It was truly incredible to see this community come together and contribute whatever they could in order to support the Missionaries of the Poor and what they stand for.
Thus far, I have spent one day at the Lord’s Place, which is a clinic and home for women and patients with HIV/AIDS, and one day at Faith House, which is a clinic and home for men. The Lord’s Place is an exceptional home filled with so much love. The residents here truly care for one another and actively work to assist however they can. One resident in particular runs throughout the day in helping the brothers, from making sure everyone is fed to bringing us to patients who needed wound care. In both the Lord’s Place and the Faith House, the brothers make it work with the resources that they have and fully devote themselves to the care of these residents. The Faith House was home to men with cognitive or physical disabilities. We were able to utilize our nursing skills by performing wound care and checking blood pressure and glucose levels.
The greatest lesson that I have learned thus far is the power of love. The brothers are so kind and loving toward all of the residents and the residents truly adore the brothers. While this trip has provided a great opportunity to practice nursing skills, communicating with this population and making the residents happy is so rewarding. It reminds me of why my peers and I decided that nursing was our perfect path.
Kristen Christensen, a junior, described her peds experience thus far:
Yesterday six of us had the opportunity to serve at the Bethlehem Center, which is home to boys and girls who range in age from a few years old to about 18. I don’t know that I can tell you exactly what is was like to walk into that room, but I will say that I have never seen little bodies with such physical distortions and limitations. After taking it all in, we quickly got to work bathing, changing, brushing teeth and feeding the boys. We picked them up, massaged their little legs, performed active and passive range of motion exercises, and played! The most amazing thing was to see their faces light up when you said their name– one of their only possessions– and they loved hearing it over and over again. I left the center feeling overwhelmed with sadness and exhaustion, but I also left with the imprint of their smiles, the sound of their laughter and with peace, knowing that these children are loved and cared for daily by the faithful service of the brothers.
According to Brother John Paul, who is a brother and a nurse, “nursing is not just a skill, its another way to love.” This trip reiterates and instills the power of compassion and love.