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Students Impact Health Mission Trip to Peru »
Union College students Katie Buxton and Logan Kennedy joined a group of 53 volunteers for a week-long medical mission trip organized by Global Health Initiatives of Denver. According to Kim Kennedy, Development Officer at Centura Global Health Initiatives, both students were excited about going on this trip, but they had concerns about raising the $4,400 dollars. Within less than two months, they were fully funded. “I was amazed at how quickly all the money was raised. It was clear that God was calling me to be a part of something much bigger than myself,” said Katie.
The group joined teams and participated in four areas of service--the donor administration team, the surgical team, the community health team, and the community service team, where Logan and Katie were placed. The community service team worked on a school project in the village of Sinchicuy where they helped with an art program and a soccer camp for nearly 90 students from grades 1 -12. “The children attending the school had very little, so being able to able to provide them with supplies is a memory that I will not forget,” says Logan.
Working together in a 5th and 6th grade classroom gave Katie and Logan the opportunity to build relationships with the young children. They admitted the first few days were difficult because of the language barrier, but it didn’t take long for the students to warm up to them. “This mission trip was different than all the others I have been on, because I was placed in a setting where I was allowed to take time and spend a few days with the kids to connect with them on a personal level and that was an amazing experience,” said Logan. “Being with the children and seeing them so excited to show us their community garden, introduce us to their village monkey, help them with various art projects, and sing songs with them strengthened our connection,” added Katie,” It was amazing how I went into the mission trip to help make a difference in other people's lives, but just being with those kids for a short amount of time left an impact on me.”
The team also visited a nearby school for special needs children. The village people believed that a medical clinic was to be set up on site. "This was a misunderstanding," Kim commented. When the team arrived, about 50-60 kids were lined up with their parents to receive help, but there was no medicine and only one doctor available. To help distract the children, Katie and Logan took time to color with them in coloring books they brought. For Katie, this simple gesture meant so much more, as she sat next to a little girl with Down syndrome who had a huge smile on her face, she noticed that the young girl had puss oozing out of her ears. “That's when everything clicked for me and I realized why I was there. These kids barely have anything. They’re struggling to get through life and dealing with medical issues, yet they find so much joy in little things like coloring. This taught me a lesson that I will stick with me forever,” says Katie.
After their return, Katie and Logan listed three important areas that could be considered by future volunteers--Keep an open mind, embrace your experiences with people from all different walks of life, and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. God takes those opportunities to help you grow.
Global Health Initiatives works to make a difference in remote areas around the world. Each year they take ten mission trips to, Nepal, Peru, and Rwanda and are currently working to expand their health care mission to other countries. If you would like to get involved or want to find out more, you can contact, Kim Kennedy at [email protected].
--Alaysha Harris; photos by Katie Buxton and Logan Kennedy