Alternative Spring Break: Kelly McCarthy

Over spring break I was able to visit Belize for a medical mission. With the financial help from the Honors Program, I experienced the trip of a lifetime. Through an organization known as international service learning or ISL, I met up with 13 other college students from around the United States and a guide in Belize.

While there, I went house to house in remote villages in a town called Pomona and Hope Creek, in search of sick individuals. Because we could only see a certain amount of patients, the house visits were used as a triage or where we received basic information about the patient and provided them with an appointment card for the preceding day’s clinic.

My group set up clinics in each of the villages to provide care and medication for the community members. I was able to utilize my Spanish communication skills and practice my diagnostic technique.  Throughout the week, after clinics, we did a variety of activities such as suture lessons, injection courses, cave tubing, snorkeling, waterfall climbing, playing with the children in the village, and hiking. My trip has taught me many lessons and practices I will remember throughout my nursing career.

The individuals in my group are people I will remain in contact for years to come, and I was able to learn a lot from each person. Being in a country where medical care or even life necessities was not as easily obtained as it is here, has greatly opened my eyes.

The hardest part for me while there was not being able to help everyone. A specific incident I recall was a young woman with a 3 week old child. The woman’s father was in very end stage prostate cancer and was suffering in pain. The woman sought out our group to see if there as anything we could do for him, unfortunately we could not. Instead, my group did what we could for her and her daughter. All of my patients had hardships to endure and it was informative to listen and understand what they go through yet the happiness and optimism they still have regardless of their lack of medical treatment, shoes, or even food. I would love to participate in a program as such in the future because not only was I able to help the Belizean people, but also helped myself.