Hola, friends! This blog post is very special to me (just admitting my bias up front!) Our author for this month is my niece, Courtney Buratto, who is an incredible woman and fantastic member of our last 2 mission teams.
I am a Nurse Practitioner and had the privilege of traveling with SVI to Sosua in 2018 and early 2020. When asked to write a blog post, I was eager to reflect on the health focused mission of the teams. The more I’ve thought about these experiences, the more difficult it seems to convey the complexity of my time in Sosua.
I thought about the middle-aged woman, without easy access to care, with a serious foot wound and presumed undiagnosed diabetes. We couldn’t ensure follow up and treatment for her chronic disease, but we could care for her wound in hopes of preventing further complications.
I thought about the elderly gentleman with signs of a stroke. We couldn’t understand how the ambulance crew required payment from the family before service, but ultimately, we could get him to a hospital for evaluation.
I thought about the impromptu home visit to a very fragile, elderly man who was dying from cancer. We couldn’t cure his disease, but we could bathe him and give the family suggestions to manage pain and provide comfort.
I thought about a young woman who we determined to be pregnant. We couldn’t remedy the limited prenatal care leading to high rates of neonatal and maternal complications, but we could share in her joy, offer prenatal vitamins and gifts for her baby.
I thought about the well-baby clinic and baby shower for new and expectant moms. We couldn’t improve inadequate well child care which results in increased child mortality, but we could educate and instill confidence in these mothers that they were taking good care of their babies.
I thought about reproductive health sessions with 6th and 10th graders. We couldn’t change that teen pregnancy is a significant issue due to inadequate education and contraception availability; but we could give accurate information, affirm sexuality as a positive and integral part of life, and empower these young women to make informed choices about their bodies.
Then I thought about child sponsorship; on my first trip, a girl in the third grade approached me requesting that I sponsor her. I couldn’t overlook the 40% drop out rate before the 8th grade, but on a return trip Saulimar and I could spend time getting to know each other and making friendship bracelets together.
It is tempting to dwell on what we can’t do and feel that the effort during these trips is inadequate. There is never enough time or resources to accomplish everything as planned; there is no way to ensure long term investment; there are significant limitations to health improvement including transportation, financial, insurance and educational barriers; even defining progress is different in our culture than in Sosua.
Rather, these memories encourage me to consider how much we CAN do. Each of these stories demonstrate meaningful connection and I believe that their impact will be remembered. Mission work is a complicated privilege, full of challenges and frustrations. However, when we allow ourselves to be open to how we can serve on a team, we can learn together to approach the needs of their community in hopes of healthier and safer futures.
First Trip to the DR 2008
Barb Settles Huge - Founder and President
Dan Huge- Advisory Council Chair