Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By: Morgan Fulmer, Staff Writer
When I first started the nursing program at Cedar Crest College, I wanted to help people. I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. “Isn’t that what nursing is about?” I thought to myself. So when the opportunity to participate in a medical mission trip to Belize with the nursing department arose, I signed up immediately. I thought this would be my very first opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life that truly needs my help. As I visited the different villages and met the people, I knew my initial expectations were uneducated.
Here is what I would say if I had the opportunity to see the people of Belize again. Thank you to the elderly couple in San Carlos, Belize who welcomed us into their home with such openness and acceptance – as if we’ve known them for years. This couple invited us in their back yard and set us up on plastic lawn chairs and tree stumps. They served us fresh, home grown watermelon without hesitation. They showed us the eggs their chicken laid moments prior. This couple, in a two room house, with a dirt floor, outside latrine, no running water may not have had much wealth in terms of material items, but they had tremendous wealth in love, friendship, pride, respect and dignity. The two of them taught me to be humble and to live simply. The material things in life don’t matter.
Thank you to the little girl in San Carlos, Belize who suffered from headaches and blurred vision and cried tears of joy and sadness when she tried on Dr. Leh’s glasses and could finally see. You taught me that simple things, like glasses, can make a difference. You also taught me something even more valuable: how easy it is for me, an American with health insurance, to make an appointment with an optometrist, get an eye exam and purchase eye glasses of any type, shape, color, or price that suits me. This little girl would take a two hour drive, most likely on a bus since her family couldn’t afford a car, to the nearest city and optometrist where she would have an exam and be told she needed glasses but most likely will not be able to afford. Easy access to medical care is not to be taken for granted – lesson learned.
Thank you to the elderly man in Santa Cruz, Belize who suffered from anxiety, stress and possible gall bladder stones. You thanked me for coming to your village and told me how much you appreciated the free medical clinic we set up. Even though we weren’t able to cure you or officially diagnose you without an ultrasound, you were just appreciative to talk to medical professionals since you were unable to seek treatment. You taught me perseverance and gratitude. Even though you suffered for a few years before you could talk to a medical professional, you still continued to work long hours and in the extreme heat day after day.
After meeting these people, I realized, maybe nursing isn’t about what I can do for the patients and the difference I can make in someone’s life. Maybe it’s about the patients I work with and how they can make a difference in my life and all the things they can teach me. Maybe my initial reasons for wanting to be a nurse were a bit naïve.