by Emily Craig, Osteopathic Medicine Student at Marian University College
While attending the Global Missions Health Conference (GMHC) in Louisville, Kentucky, I spoke with a man from Christian Emergency Relief Teams International. He just so happened to be the leader of a medical mission trip to Peru. We spoke passionately about our work and our love of Christ and he insisted I come with the team to Peru.
At the same time, there was a representative from Southwestern Medical Clinic who shared with me about a scholarship and a vision to help young student doctors like myself experience global missions first-hand.
I prayed about it for months. Soon all the trip details came together perfectly. A blessing that was specifically for me.
In July 2016, I had the unique opportunity to travel to the city of Cusco, Peru and serve the indigenous people in remote villages, far from medical care.
Our mornings started early. We took the bus from downtown Cusco to villages, sometimes three hours away. Once in the villages, we traveled from house to house, making sure everyone knew that there would be a free clinic for the next few days.
By the second day, we had people waiting in line before we even arrived. We worked tirelessly through the day, knowing we would likely have to ask a few to return the next day. I had my own patients and worked alongside one of the family doctors. Most people complained of joint and body pains and headaches. Some had respiratory issues. All had “guisanos,” or enteric worms.
Eventually, because we were seeing the same complaints, we developed a community educational outreach curriculum in the format of multiple skits. We educated the group on safe water consumption in the proper amount to decrease parasites, body aches, and headaches. We demonstrated core and low back exercises and stretches, as well as proper lifting techniques. We also taught them how to brush their teeth properly.
Overall, we used our simple resources to significantly impact the communities in which we worked. It was truly an amazing and rewarding experience!
I know you can do mission work in your own hometown, even in your own clinic. However, being a part of international mission work adds another level of care. It pushes you out of your comfort zone and requires you to be resourceful. These combined elements demand reliance on something outside yourself. You learn to rely on your team, your translators, and ultimately on God.
Working with the underserved has always broadened my perspective and reminded me that it is no those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.
Those people who are in need of healthcare are everywhere. If you are interested in medical mission work, keep this in mind—as physicians, we can only heal the body, but by introducing each person to Jesus Christ, their souls can be healed as well.
Southwestern Medical Clinic Foundation is providing limited scholarships to those in the medical industry who feel called to serve on short-term medical missions across the globe. If you or someone you know is interested in short-term mission work, visit www.swmcf.org to learn more about the scholarship program, read other impactful stories, and mission trip applications.