Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Ghandi

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Swaziland: Because One Child Matters - By Lauren Carroll

I recently traveled to Swaziland with the organization One Child Matters formally known as Mission of Mercy.  This trip was my second medical mission trip, my first being India. When I was in nursing school my dream was to travel to Africa and help the amazing people.  I was excited when those pieces started to fall into place.  In November, I spent a memorable ten days learning the Swazi culture, meeting new people and forming lasting bonds.  

A group of twenty five dedicated people came together to serve one purpose, to help the people of Swaziland. The team consisted of eight clinical examiners, two dietitians,  three pharmacy workers, and many support people.  We set up medical clinics in five different care points with the help of Children’s Cup.  In our time in Swaziland we were able to care for 1111 children and adults!

Swaziland is a very beautiful country and I enjoyed being able to spend time with the citizens of Swaziland in their element.  I loved getting to know the translators and building a rapport with them as they would even anticipate which questions we would ask the patients next!  

One moment that was both thrilling and memorable was when I realized the children were truly benefiting from having the Children’s Cup nurse visit them often.  Let me elaborate. As I said earlier I went to India on my first medical mission trip and there was a noticeable difference in the health of these children verses the children in India.  Jessie, the missionary nurse that works hands on with Children’s Cup visits these children regularly to give them checkups and medicines as needed. She is also able to refer them to which doctor they need to follow up with.  The children were still sick and we were able to give them medicines to help the symptoms but knowing they were going to get the follow up they needed even after our team left was very comforting!

Another touching memory would have to be a young child that was sitting by the fire one day as we were taking our lunch break.  It was cold in Swazi this particular day, the boy had on only shorts and a t-shirt with no shoes or even socks.  The caregivers were feeding the local children their food and gave the boy some of the extra food.  His face then lit up and he smiled from ear to ear.  Some of the team members then gave him socks, shoes, and shirts they had brought with them to the care point.  He was warm and full with a huge smile of his face! I realized that is what we are here for to show God’s love to these amazing people!

Watching these children come to the care points with no shoes or jackets walking over two hours to get food was a humbling experience for me.  It is very easy to take everything for granted in America because things are so accessible. To watch the joy that is in these children and the love they have for each other is inspiring. I have honestly learned the joy that comes from the simpleness in life.

The medical mission trip to Swaziland is part of what is building how I view life, shaping my lifestyle.  How I now view my patients is different because I have learned so much about myself as well as my purpose. I am a nurse because God has called me into that career to help others and show His amazing love no matter where I find myself.

I want to thank you, One Nurse at A Time for giving me the opportunity to go on this life changing adventure.  It was a blessing to be able to teach, learn with, and love the amazing people of Swaziland!