My First Medical Mission
As Arise and Walk Ministries Foundation joined Urban and Global Missions Alliance (UGMA) in the provision of free healthcare to the poor in the Dominican Republic, Dr. Mayra Suero-Wade met several first time missionaries and asked for a written account of their participation for our newsletter. The following write-up from Kelly Chajka is a blessing and will stimulate others to experience short term missions!
My First Medical Mission: Dominican Republic
BY KELLY CHAJKA
It was a day like any other. My friends and I were in the library taking a breather before our next class. While checking my email, I came across some information about a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic, organized by the UGMA. I knew right away that I had to be a part of it. I felt in my heart that it would be a great way to help people in need, to practice the skills I had learned in my first year at SUNY Optometry, and to meet new people. All of these expectations were far surpassed during my six days of service.
When I arrived at the airport, I knew only a few of the other optometry students going on the trip. I was unsure if I would be accepted by the group and didn’t know exactly what I was getting into. What I soon learned, however, was that I was privileged to be on a mission with over sixty of the nicest, most accepting, most caring people I’ve ever met. Over the next six days, we visited four sites and provided free medical care to the local people. All of our group members, from those working in triage, to general medicine, to dentistry, to pharmacy, pushed themselves physically and emotionally to make sure that as many patients as possible could be seen.
As part of the ophthalmology team, we saw almost 1,000 patients during our short week. We performed refractions and ocular health screenings and then provided glasses and eye medicines to those who needed them. It was difficult work; the heat was stifling, the stream of patients was endless, and I sometimes didn’t know if I would physically make it through the day. But what really kept me going was knowing that I was making a difference in people’s lives. When a man puts on a pair of reading glasses and his whole face lights up because he can now read small print, that is a feeling you’ll never forget. When a woman hugs you and thanks you for helping her, you get that extra push of energy you need. One of the doctors on the trip told me that in all of his years as a physician, he has learned that it’s not so much the medical care you give people, but the way that you treat them and the kindness you give them that will be remembered. These are words I will live by throughout my career. Thanks to this trip, I know I will make mission trips a regular part of my life. I already can’t wait until next year when I will get to see all of my new friends again and to embark on the next mission!