My name is Kevin Elwood, and I am a 2012 Marist graduate. I currently attend the University of Texas and over spring break, a group of students and myself went to the Dominican Republic to set up health clinics in the poor communities.
The experience was remarkable and eye-opening. As many of you who have gone on mission trips know, the conditions in which people live in are sometimes astounding. Stray dogs roaming everywhere, shoeless children, kids playing in dirty sewer water, and believe it or not, toilets where you can’t flush the toilet paper. In all of these hardships people go through, you see resilience that cannot be beat and you respect and admire that.
Medically, the conditions in these communities are very poor as you can imagine. We worked in four different Haitian communities. Many older patients have terrible arthritis from working the fields their whole lives. Almost all children are stricken with parasites and fungus, and most women have urinary tract infections. The blood pressure on some patients was ridiculously high, and yet looking at them, you would have never had guessed it. Sadly, some people would come and make up symptoms, which was not too difficult to recognize, simply because they want to walk away with any medicine. They want someone to hear them and take notice of them. Always, we would send patients away with multivitamins, if nothing else, in addition to medicine for their illnesses. It is sad because we know that these medicines will only last for so long. The children will get another parasite. The pain medication will run out.
The children there just love having visitors to their community and would swarm us on our lunch breaks just trying to play soccer, get stickers and little toys, and they would love to talk about Dominican baseball players. It is a country filled with such beauty, representing the Caribbean island experience at a glance, which many people know it as. But when truly looking, it is a country filled with poverty and illness. The experience gave me more than I could have asked for, and I recommend it for any person. Whether you want to participate in a medical trip, or another mission trip, don’t debate any longer and do it. It will be an experience teaching you lessons and perspectives you will never forget and allow you to count your blessings here in America.