Making a difference through global healthcare, during Spring Break 2019, March 8-17, six students from the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) joined with 19 students from Baylor University’s Medical Service Organization (MSO) and traveled to Peru on a Baylor Missions medical mission trip. The group worked with Operacion San Andres (OSA) to offer a health clinic to the underserved populations in Collique, a shantytown on the outskirts of Lima, Peru.
“Our LHSON students gained confidence in their skills and knowledge as they helped their MSO peers who have had little to no clinical training, thus far,” said Jeanne Carey, MEd, RN, CHSE, Director of Simulation, LHSON. “It was really neat to see the MSO students seek the advice and assistance of the nursing students, whenever they were struggling with a certain skill or had questions about their clinical findings.”
Throughout the week, the 25 member team conducted health screenings for 370 people, ranging in age from six months old to 94 years old. Baylor students also provided educational sessions for children who visit the OSA house daily after school. Children learned about topics such as: Stranger Danger, Fire Safety (Stop, Drop, & Roll), Hygiene - Handwashing and Teeth Brushing, plus Nutrition & Exercise. Baylor students demonstrated the information to the children by using large teeth models and oversized toothbrushes borrowed from LHSON’s Learning Resource Center, as well as showing the children five and one pound fat models. “This is a remarkable example of discipline-specific missions and how students and faculty can use their vocation to contribute to human flourishing,” said Rebecca A. Kennedy, Assistant Dean for Spiritual Life & Missions at Baylor University.
“Over the course of the week, the Baylor group hosted five 90-minute sessions in three classrooms with 30 children each, ages 7-12 years old,” said Carey. “The same children attended every day so our Baylor students presented content that built on the previous day's lesson. On the last day, we held an education session for the parents of the OSA kids and we had 42 adults attend. Five of our Baylor students, including one nursing student conducted that session entirely in Spanish, incorporating a question and answer period. The session was planned for 20 minutes but instead had to be stopped at the 50-minute mark because our bus was waiting to take us back to the hotel in Lima (a two-hour busy ride, one-way). I believe the parents were responding to our Baylor students’ efforts to communicate with them in their first language,” said Carey. “It was a great way to conclude our time at OSA.”
“This trip was important to Baylor, LHSON, and MSO because of the foundation we were able to establish for our relationship with OSA and the people of Collique,” said Maggie Compton, LHSON senior nursing student. “When I learned the skill in nursing school I never knew that cleaning ears would change my life but being able to see someone hear clearly for the first time in a long time does something to you.”
“Our work in Collique brought a fresh perspective on the human condition, which presented in both heartbreaking and in heartwarming ways,” said Grayson Jackson, Baylor University junior, Pre-Med, University Scholars Program and MSO member. “Often I was confronted with deep sorrow as I bore witness to deeply-entrenched poverty and insufficient access to health care. But in those very same places, I also saw an abundance of love, hope, and gratitude that was incredibly humbling to experience. Of the many gifts we can offer our brothers and sisters across the world, perhaps the greatest is our love, for it builds bridges that transcend even the most seemingly insurmountable of barriers. Love knows no language nor race nor creed. This connection we made in Collique will allow countless others to fill their hearts in compassionate service.”
“It is our hope that this trip continues on an annual basis as a collaboration between the School of Nursing, MSO, and OSA,” said Carey. “I told the students we were laying the foundation for a long-term, sustainable venture and through this enduring commitment we would truly impact the people of Collique. This was not a “one and done” mission trip. As such, the students quickly bonded and the lines between LHSON and MSO, freshman and senior, soon blurred and then melted away completely. We were one team with one heart for the people of Collique.”
Serving the underserved populations as “Salt & Light” in God’s world, outreach through study and mission abroad is an important pillar of missions work at LHSON. Emphasizing servant leadership to influence global healthcare outcomes, LHSON students are offered the opportunity to participate in missions. Through domestic and international missions, students give back to the community with their nursing skills and spiritual heart. During 2018, LHSON offered mission trips to Zambia, Africa; Bengaluru and Hyderabad, India and study abroad trips to England and Vietnam. LHSON also remains active in teaching and research in Hong Kong, India, Uganda and Zambia and plays a vital role in Baylor’s global health and outreach efforts.